Tag Archives: Helen Rye

One in Twenty-Three
by Helen Rye
Nationally Published in Vietnamese

When I read Helen Rye’s One in Twenty-Three on the Bath Flash Fiction Award’s website, everything froze. I sat there with tears rolling down my face. I come from Vietnam where our natural beauty, homes and people were devastated by wars and conflicts. Many Vietnamese died because of bombs and then afterwards during their journeys on boats. I felt my Vietnam inside Helen’s story. One in Twenty-Three is not just about one country or one person, it’s about the evil of wars and the strength of the human spirit. I knew I had to translate One in Twenty-Three because I knew many Vietnamese would feel consoled by this story. As soon as I got Helen’s permission and the permission from the Bath Flash Fiction Award, I started my translation work, refining it during the next week. My conversations with Helen helped me dive deeper into One in Twenty-Three. I submitted the final translation to the national newspaper Hà Nội Mới and it was immediately accepted. I am thankful to the Bath Flash Fiction Award for organizing such a meaningful writing competition that gives voices to those who need to speak. Thank you to Helen Rye for writing a story that makes me weep every time I read it. I’m delighted that all the commission associated with the publication of One in Twenty-Three in Vietnamese is donated to the Ban Mai scholarship program, to assist poor children of Vietnam in continuing their schooling.

I look forward to translating more of the prize-winning stories from the Bath Fiction Award.

About the Translator

Nguyen Phan Que Mai is an award-winning Vietnamese writer and translator. Fifteen of her books in poetry, fiction, non-fiction and translations have been published in Vietnamese and English. Que Mai’s first international publication, The Secret of Hoa Sen (poems, BOA Editions, 2014) received a Lannan Translation Award. Que Mai’s first novel in English is forthcoming with Algonquin Books (New York) in Spring 2019. For more information about her work, visit her website: nguyenphanquemai.com

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Interview with Helen Rye
October 2016 Flash Fiction First Prize

helen-rye-homeHelen entered her incredibly moving first prize winning story just before midnight on October 12th, the final day of our last Award, judged by Robert Vaughan. Her ancient computer kept crashing and nearly stopped her from entering and we’re glad to say the prize money made it possible for her to buy a new one, pictured in the photograph here. In this interview she tells us what the title of the story, One in Twenty-Three means – a deeply shocking and sobering fact. She also describes her writing life in the hotbed of talented writers in Norwich. Her supportive writing group played the theme tune to ‘Rocky’ when she walked in soon after her win! I think cake might have been involved too. Take note of Helen’s top tip for prospective entrants – don’t let a lack of self-belief stop you, just go for it.
Read in Full

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Helen Rye
October 2016 First Prize

One in Twenty-Three

by Helen Rye

Our land was beautiful. You should have seen the cherry blossom in the springtime, the foot of our mountain was clothed in it. And the sweetness of the figs in autumn – there is nothing like it anywhere.

Figs were our country’s first gift to the world. Anzuki, Halabi, Bouksati, Oubied – such poetry there is in the names, and in the soft, ripened flesh you could taste the warmth of the sun that falls on the land of my grandfather’s fathers.

We burnt the trees to keep our child from dying of cold, the winter after the power went down. My husband wept as he carried the branches from the orchard, but the snows were coming and we had nothing left to burn.

He spared one.

The last fruit was ripe on its branches and the leaves had almost gone, the day the rebels took him away.

I took my son to my sister in the city, but then the bombs came. They fell on the library. On the marketplace. On the internet café at the corner of the next street. On the hospital. On the people who were fleeing from the hospital.

Our lives compressed to the twelve-metre span of this boat.

I called my son Ocean, because once I loved the sea. Now our land lies scorched and turned toward the earth, and ten thousand have fallen like leaves beneath these waters.

Did you know that the fig is not really a fruit? No, it is a flower that has turned in on itself, so that all of the beauty and goodness lies hidden on the inside. All the colour that could in another life have become bright petals is wrapped in darkness, away from the world. But it is in there.

It is in there.

About the Author

helen-ryeHelen Rye lives in Norwich, where she juggles part-time work with parenting and writing. She has benefited from tutoring by some of the absurdly talented writers who live in the city. Her first piece of flash fiction was shortlisted for the 2015 Bridport Prize. She is writing a novel, very slowly, and the occasional picture-book text.

She has loved writing since she was a child but returned to it only relatively recently via workplaces including a physics lab, a needle exchange and a theatre company.

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