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Bret Anthony Johnston has won the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award with his story ‘Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses’. Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University, he was previously shortlisted for Ireland’s Frank O’Connor International Short Fiction Prize for his short story collection Corpus Christie: Stories and has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Foundation, the Pushcart Prize and the Virginia Quarterly Review. Johnston is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Remember Me Like This, currently being filmed for the big screen, and wrote the documentary Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theatres around the world. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he was the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend college. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is a former professional skateboarder.

The winning story revolves around Atlee’s life-long enthusiasm for horses, and the way in which he can recall this passion when his memory falters in old age. Through revisiting a moment when Atlee witnessed wild horses at a river, the story weaves in and out of important moments of his life, meditating on the value of memory, and its ability to awaken us at one of the most vulnerable junctures of our lives.

Bret Anthony Johnston beat off strong competition from five other exceptional writers – this year saw a vibrant shortlist of new and emerging voices of great breadth and skill. Alongside Johnston, it comprised American Kathleen Alcott, author of the novels The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets and Infinite Home; British poet and novelist Richard Lambert, a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at UEA; the Irish writer Sally Rooney, whose debut Conversations Among Friends is published by Faber this June; and American writers Victor Lodato and Celeste Ng, who both have novels published this year.

Read an interview with Bret Anthony Johnson here

Judge and journalist, Mark Lawson commented, “Great short stories achieve a breadth of meaning far greater than the length of their telling. In Bret Anthony Johnston’s story, a small patch of Texas cattle country opens up long vistas on love, death, memory and the survival instinct, human and equine. Johnston showed brilliance over the long distance in his novel, Remember Me Like This, and now proves equally adept at brevity. Small details from American and animal lives take on vast significance, and every line has the kick of a horse.”

Andrew Holgate, judge and literary editor of the Sunday Times said, “We began the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award with over 1,000 entries from five continents, a record for the prize. The shortlist was an immensely strong one, but Bret Antony Johnston’s story stood out for the poise, beauty and calm of its writing, the depth of its emotional engagement, and for its deep, deep resonance and humanity. The Sunday Times EFG award has an excellent reputation both for rewarding major writers, and introducing exciting new ones. Bret is already weighed down with accolades in the US, but I’m very excited that British readers can now be introduced properly to this outstanding author.”

The winner was announced this evening at a gala dinner hosted by EFG at Stationers’ Hall in London. The 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award is the world’s richest prize for a single short story. This, its eighth year, sees the award again cementing its reputation for showcasing both established and emerging writers. As winner, Bret Anthony Johnston will receive £30,000. The five other shortlisted writers will each receive £1,000.

Read the winning story here.

An ebook of the shortlist, SIX SHORTS 2017, is available priced at £1.99”