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Leicester Writer Wins International Short Story Prize

A Leicester writer has won first prize in a prestigious literary competition, which attracts entries from right across the globe.

Laura Coleman who lives in Clarendon Park, has triumphed in this year’s Leicester Writes Short Story Prize. 

Leicester Time: Leicester Writer Wins International Short Story Prize
Picture: Laura Coleman

The winning story, A Form of Freedom was chosen anonymously from more than 250 entries received from across the world. A prestigious judging panel which included writers Joe Bedford and Mona Dash selected Laura’s story as the winner from a longlist of 20 short stories.

Laura wins £175 cash prize and will have her story published in the prize anthology. 

“I’m delighted to have won the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2023: not only is it a well-respected international competition, it’s also very close to home!” she said.

“I’ve followed the prize since 2019, when one of my fellow Leicester Writers’ Club members won, so earning first place four years later means a great deal to me.

“Leicester Writes and Dahlia Books contribute so much to the culture of our city. I feel both proud and privileged to have been recognised by them.”

The prize, set up in 2017, is organised by Leicester based independent publisher, Dahlia Books seeks to recognise and celebrate short story writing talent. The competition is open to writers and is for a short story of up to 3,500 words on any theme or subject. Now in its seventh it regularly attracts international attention. This year’s competition received entries from as far as Trinidad and Tobago, USA and Malaysia.

Judges praised the exceptional quality of entries received this year. Author Mona Dash said: I loved the ambition of this short story and the fact that it didn’t follow the rules of a short story! Big theme about possibilities and how they can affect our lives. Love and death, and at the heart of it, the sorrow of a relationship not going that well.”

Last year’s winner turned judge Joe Bedford said: “It was a pleasure to read and reflect upon every single story on this year’s Leicester Writes longlist. Within those twenty stories we found a range of forms, genres and voices, as well as the unconventional, the uncategorisable and the imaginative.”

He added: “In our winner A Form of Freedom we are challenged to reimagine the conventions of freedom and causality through a story that is as emotive as it is accomplished.”

Prize coordinator, Farhana Shaikh said: “This year’s entries came from all over the world and I was blown away by the outstanding quality of the short stories I read in the first round. It’s great to see a local writer win the competition especially given that so much talent in this wonderful city still falls under the radar. I’m really looking forward to working with all the writers to publish their stories.”

Twenty short stories featured on this year’s longlist will be published in an anthology. The collection will be launched online on September 30 as part of the annual Short Story September celebrations..

The full results of the prize can be found online at