21 first prize winning stories from BFFA

Our 22nd Award ends on Sunday, 9th October. And at the end of October, we will announce the winners. I thought it would be interesting to gather all the 21 previous winners together to look at themes. The winners were selected each round, from a longlist of 50, by 21 different judges. Although the stories could be categorised in many ways, I have settled on four themes: Grief and loss; Women’s Lives; Issues from Contemporary Life and Historical. Many could cross-reference between these themes. There are links to each story. And you can gain further insights into these brilliant and varied flash fictions by reading the judges’ reports and my interviews with the authors. The stories are (or will be) included in our year-end antholgies available from adhocfiction.com
In further posts, this week and next, I’ll also be looking at themes from our second and third and commended writers in all 21 of the Awards since 2016.

Grief and Loss. There are several different angles on this theme in the stories I have linked to below. ‘Sequelae’, our June 2022 first prize winner By Rachel Blake, selected by judge Tommy Dean concerns how a person searches for but cannot find a way to express their loss. Read my interview with Rachel here

‘Snow Crow’, By Doug Ramspeck the winner of the October Award in 2021, judged by Sharon Telfer concerns the coming to terms with loss of a parent. It was also selected for Best Small Fictions 2022 and is the title story for our 2021 anthology. Read my interview with the author here.

‘Things Left And Found By the Side Of the Road’ by Jo Gatford (read our interview with her) the winner from Feburary 2018, also provided the title for our 2018 anthology. It is a one-sentence list story lament about collective loss, of people, of landscape and more. Selected by judge Tara L Masih

‘Sea Change’ by Fiona Perry won first prize in our 15th Award in June 2020. A beautifully written and mysterious dream-focussed story about loss of a father who returns from the dead. Read my interview with Fiona and the report from judge, Mary-Jane Holmes.

In Emily Devane’s first prize winning piece, from February 2017′The Hand That Wields the Priest’ we encounter a different kind of loss. A child’s loss of a certain perception of her/his father after watching him kill a fish. Read judge Kathy Fish’s comments about the story and my interview with Emily.

Extremites, by K.M. Elkes a first prize winner in June 2018, is about a forest worker who loses a hand in a chain saw accident. But many more losses are suggested in this powerfully moving piece. Read judge David Gaffney’s comments and my interview with Ken.

Women’s Lives
The Button Wife by Dara Yen Elerath won in June 2021 with this story which uses the stunning metaphor of a cloth doll to suggest an abusive relationship. Read judge K.M. Elkes comments on it in his report and my interview with Dara.

Ingrid Jendzrejewski won first prize in February 2016 the with the deeply poignant story Roll and Curl. The story shows the relationship a young hairdresser has with an older woman in the salon of a care home, and the ways she tries to protect her, just for a moment from bad news. Read judge Tania Hershman’s comments and my interview with Ingrid about the story.

Louise Mangos won in February this year with A Roadmap to Woman Hood, which traces the map of the veins of a middle-aged woman’s body to show what she has been through over many years. It’s a very striking metaphor.
Read our judge Karen Jones’ comments and my interview with Louise.

Tying the Boats by Amanda 0’Callaghan is a beautifully constructed very short piece about a woman who cuts off her hair as a small act of defiance against her husband. It won first prize in June 2017. Read judge Meg Pokrass’s comments and my interview with Amanda.

‘Siren’ by Fiona Mackintosh, who won first prize in October 2018 is written from the pov of a man who lusts after a woman in the Scottish fishing community (set probably the 19th century), who will always prefer the fishermen to him. ‘Siren’ was also selected for Best Small Fictions in 2019. Read judge Nuala 0’Connor’s comments and my interview with Fiona.

Blessings,1849. by Johanna Robinson, which won in October 2020, is another story about loss and the hardships of a woman’s life. Its backdrop is the Irish potato famine and emigration from Ireland to the US as a consequence. Read my interview with Johanna and the comments on the story by judge Nod Ghosh

Terra Incognta again references the life of woman in the service of men. This story, which won in June 2016 tells the story of the map makers daughter, who is in service to her blind father, and draws maps for him ‘neither of them will see.’ Read judge Michelle Elvy’s comments and my interview with Sharon.

Candy Girls by Christina Dalcher won first prize in February 2019. It’s a story set probably in the mid twentieth century about how young women are exploited and referencesthe MeToo movement Vanessa Gebbie judged this contest. Read her comments and my interview with Christina.

Contemporary Life and world issues

Eight Spare Bullets, which won in February, 2020, couples, as Sharon says,…” a central narrative of a failing relationship, with a core theme of the climate emergency.” The story is set in the far north in Svalbard where there is a huge seed vault.Read judge Santino Prinzi’s comments and my interview with Sharon about the story.

One in Twenty Three by Helen Rye, which won in October 2016 has since been translated into Vietnamese. It’s a story about a family who has to leave their home due to war and has to make the choice to eecape in a perilous journey in a boat to another country, Read judge Robert Vaughan’s report and my interview with Helen about the story.

Angie by Marissa Hoffman, which won first prize in October 2019 gives the pov of a refugee father trying to give instructions to his very youg daughter about clinging on to him as he swims a river to escape to another country. Read judge Nancy Stohlman’s comments about the story and my interview with Marissa

Let them Eat First by Geeta Sanker which won first prize in February 2021 is a story about the threat a young displaced woman feels in a queue to obtain food, where her family’s killer may be present. Read judge Charmaine Wilkerson’s comemnts and Jude’s interview with Geeta.

Cleft by Gaynor Jones, which won in June 2019, is a story that shows a rift between a son and his homophobic father, where the son is in a relationship with another man and wants a baby. Read judge Christopher Allen’s comments and my interview with Gaynor

Pony by Rose McDonagh won in October 2017. It is a story set in what seems like a poor housing estate, where the protaganist, who se partner appears to be cruel, has rescued a pony which she is keeping in a shared garden. Read judge David Swann;s comments and my interview with Rose.

Our inaugural prize from 2015, Radio Alarm by William Davidson is a wonderfully vivid and humourous story about a drunken night out on the town told in the form of the UK shipping forecast as he bearily comes to. Read judge Anne-Marie Neary’s comments and jude’s interview with William here.

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