The National Arts Festival is proud to partner with author Joanne Hichens to announce the launch of the brand new Short Sharp Stories Award for South African short-story fiction.  An anthology of selected stories will be published annually from submissions to the award, and the theme of the anthology will differ from year to year.

The prize-winning stories of the first collection, selected from the stories to be published by a panel of independent judges, will be announced at an annual launch event at the 2013 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. This first volume, scheduled for publication in July 2013, will be devoted to crime-thriller fiction. At least twenty stories will be published in what will be an exciting home-grown collection.

“It is the aim of this new award to encourage, support, and showcase established and emerging South African writing talent,” said Artistic Director Ismail Mahomed. “We are also thrilled to announce that internationally celebrated crime-fiction author Deon Meyer will write the foreword to this first anthology, and that acclaimed journalist and author Fred Khumalo has agreed to be a judge.”

Joanne Hichens, the curator of the Award, is calling for the submission of thrilling crime fiction stories. “We’re hoping too that a number of stories will deliver that measure of justice so sorely needed in South Africa,” she added.

In addition to being published in the anthology, the cash prizes to be won include R20 000 (twenty thousand rand) for BEST STORY, R5000 (five thousand rand) for MOST ORIGINAL STORY, R5000 (five thousand rand) for MOST THRILLING STORY and R5000 (five thousand Rand) for BEST NEW VOICE.

The story must be set in South Africa – from the dusty streets of the Karoo in summer, to the slopes of a rain battered Table Mountain, from Durban’s beaches to the derelict streets of inner Jozi, the diversity of setting is as exciting as the diversity of voice which South Africa has to offer. The full rules and requirements for the stories can be viewed on the National Arts Festival website: www.nationalartsfestival.co.za as well as at www.shortsharpstories.com.

The competition is open to South African citizens regardless of residency, and to residents of South Africa. Entrants must be 21 years of age and older. Stories must be previously unpublished fiction, written in English. Stories are to be between 3000 and 5000 words in length (which will enable submission to the Caine Prize), and only one story per author is to be considered in any one year. Closing date for entries for the inaugural competition is 30 November 2012.

Selected writers will be invited to read at, and to participate in events at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2013. Transport and accommodation will be paid for winning writers, provided they are resident in South Africa. Copyright of stories will remain with the writers, although writers may be requested to publish in partnering online and print media.

The final panel of independent judges to choose the winning stories from the short-list of twenty-five stories will be announced in 2013. Stories will be edited by author and editor Joanne Hichens, in association with the writers, in order to ensure a publication of the highest standard.

After consulting the submission details on the National Arts Festival website, entries can be emailed to enter@shortsharpstories.com. Submissions should be accompanied by the signed entry form (available on the website from 30 August), plus a covering letter conveying contact details, plus a brief CV and biography. Stories are preferably to be set in 11 point, Times Roman, at one and half line spacing. For further information, or queries, please contact Joanne Hichens at enter@shortsharpstories.com.