Miroslav Penkov wins BBC Short Story Award
3rd October 2012 - 10:4am
The BBC International Short Story Award has been won by Bulgarian author Miroslav Penkov for his Cold War tale 'East of the West'.
Judges including Clive Anderson, Ross Raisin and Anjali Joseph said they were 'unanimous' in their choice of Penkov's story.
'The narrator's voice is unforgettable, his bleak vision redeemed by a strength of feeling that is unusual and unfashionable in modern fiction,' the panel said.
Penkov took the GBP 15,000 prize, while the runner-up, South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes, won GBP 2,500 for her story 'Sanctuary'.
The winner was announced at a ceremony in London, broadcast live on Radio 4 arts show Front Row.
The shortlist included stories from Deborah Levy, also shortlisted for this year's Man Booker prize for Swimming Home, former winner Julian Gough and M. J. Hyland, who was also shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Award in 2011.
East of the West is set in Bulgaria during and after the Cold War and explores the difficulties of love, relationships and identity in a region ridden with conflict and sectarian violence.
'I wanted to write a story about those Bulgarians who... were severed from our country and who inevitably will lose, if they haven't already, their sense of being Bulgarian,' Penkov said.
Judge Ross Raisin liked 'East of the West''s 'understatedness': 'It is rich in historical detail and imagery, without over-reaching for these effects, and as a result the story manages well the conveyance of epic with the building of interest in the individual struggle of the narrator.'
For the first time, the BBC short story competition was opened out to include international writers, in honour of the London 2012 Games.
Ten stories were selected for this year's shortlist, rather than the usual five, to help reflect the wide range of entries from around the world.