A creative writing student at Goldsmiths University has won the 2017 Guardian 4th Estate BAME short story prize.
Lisa Smith won the prize last night for her short story Auld Lang Syne after being selected from what has been described as a "startlingly strong" shortlist. Find out more about the announcement and read her story in The Guardian. She will receive £1,000, a workshop with 4th Estate editorial, publicity and marketing teams.
Now in its second year, the prize celebrates the writing of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK and Ireland. At a time when the lack diversity in literature has become a central issue in publishing, the prize seeks to shed light on voices from underrepresented communities.
Ahead of the announcement Lisa said that she was inspired to enter the prize after reading last year’s winning entry by Nigerian writer Abiola Oni. She said: “It is exciting to read stories by other emerging BAME writers, and competitions like this one not only give diversity a chance to shine, but shows that the stories we tell are not inward looking or niche, but have universal appeal.”
Auld Lang Syne is about Rufus Samuels, a 73-year-old Jamaican who has led a colourful life consisting of wine, women and dominoes, since arriving in the UK in the 1960s. When he finds himself in police custody on New Year’s Eve 2015, he has time to reflect the choices he has made.
For many years, Lisa worked as a documentary film-maker and she drew inspiration for characters from real life situations. On what inspired her to write the story, Lisa said: “I grew up listening to, and observing men like Rufus at family dos, community gathering and such. I’ve watched them grow old, and wondered about how the choices they made as young men impact on them in later life.”
Lisa has always been what she describes as a “secret scribbler”, but her time on the Creative and Life Writing MA helped her come into her own as a writer. Her time on the course also gave her the space to immerse herself in writing and fully commit to it.
Encouragement from tutors and peers has been invaluable, and she said: “I’ve become far more confident sharing my work, giving, as well as receiving feedback and I believe I am beginning to find a voice.”
Read more about the prize here.
Original story 'Goldsmiths writer shortlisted for Guardian story prize' published on 26 June 2017.