Ali Smith wins Charleston Small Wonder Short Fiction Award

Ali Smith named as recipient of the Charleston Small Wonder Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award 2016

Author, Ali Smith CBE FRSL, has been announced as the 2016 recipient of the Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award, as part of the annual Small Wonder Short Story Festival which runs at Charleston in Sussex from 28 September to 2 October. The award recognises Ali’s prolific and outstanding contribution to the short fiction genre.

Awarded a CBE in 2015 for her distinguished and innovative contribution to literature, Ali Smith is a previous winner of the Bailey’s, Costa, Whitbread and Goldsmiths Prizes, amongst others, and has been shortlisted for multiple literary awards including the Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize. The acclaimed Scottish writer’s numerous novels and short story collections include How to be Both, The Accidental, Hotel World and Free Love and Other Stories. Born in Inverness, Ali Smith now lives in Cambridge. She writes regularly for The Guardian, The Scotsman and The Times Literary Supplement, and was described, by Patrick Flanery, author and professor of creative writing, as being ‘among Virginia Woolf’s most gifted inheritors’ which makes this Charleston prize particularly apt.

Nestled in the South Downs near Lewes, Charleston is the former home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury group (including Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, Roger Fry and Clive Bell). Charleston’s Small Wonder Festival (28 September to 2 October) continues the Bloomsbury ethos of fostering creativity and ideas by celebrating the short story genre and other short forms of writing which were fostered by the Hogarth Press, founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

Diana Reich, artistic director of Small Wonder, said she was delighted that Ali’s contribution to the short story had been recognised. “She is one of our most innovative and imaginative authors, writing in the experimental tradition of Virginia Woolf,” said Diana. “Ali is one of the publishing world’s most original authors, equally at home with short fiction and the novel.”

Now in its fourth year, the Charleston Small Wonder Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction is awarded to writers with a strong track record in publishing short stories of outstanding quality. Previous recipients are William Trevor, Edna O’Brien and Jane Gardam. This year’s prize will be awarded to Ali Smith on 28 September, the opening day of the Small Wonder Festival. On hearing the news about her award, Ali Smith said, “I am over the moon to find myself and my stories on such a list.”

The full Small Wonder Festival programme has also been revealed today and includes a stellar line-up including Eimear McBride, Lionel Shriver, Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney, Kei Miller and Petina Gappah.

Held in the beautiful grounds of Charleston, the themes of fluidity and mutability weave through this year’s programme, with events looking at the refugee experience, the alpha and omega of sex and death, and changing fashions within the short stories. Small Wonder will also feature interactive and participatory sessions such as Literary Death Match and a Story Slam. The anniversaries of Roald Dahl and Charlotte Brontë are also celebrated and there is an imaginative rendezvous between Hercule Poirot and Jules Maigret.

In addition to the Charleston Small Wonder Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award, the festival also hosts the BBC National Short Story Award. The festival finale sees Juliet Stevenson reading Poems that Make Grown Women Cry.

Tickets for Small Wonder will go on general sale on Tuesday 19 July. See the full Small Wonder programme at:


Notes to Editors:

For further information, speaker and festival images please contact:
Jacqui Graham
T: 020 8450 2924 | M: 07973 884 290  | E:

About Charleston
Located in the glorious South Downs in East Sussex, Charleston was, from 1916, the home of Bloomsbury group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Pioneers of early 20th century British art, Bell and Grant created a hub of artistic and intellectual activity. Home also to art critic Clive Bell, frequent guests included John Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, T.S. Eliot and E.M. Forster. Charleston is now open to the public and provides the stunning setting for the Festival.

About Small Wonder
Supported by the Arts Council, Small Wonder is Charleston’s annual short story festival. This year’s festival runs from 28 September until 2 October at Charleston, Firle, near Lewes. It is packed with lively readings, discussions, workshops and performances by innovative national and international writers. Our generous sponsors and Associate Partners include EFG International, Hurstpierpoint College, Rathfinny wine estate and the University of Sussex.

About the Charleston Small Wonder Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award
Now in its fourth year, the prize will be awarded to Ali Smith on 28 September. Previous recipients are William Trevor, Edna O’Brien and Jane Gardam. The prize is awarded to writers with a strong track record in publishing short stories of outstanding quality. The judging panel comprises: Cortina Butler: Director of Literature, British Council, Alison MacLeod: Professor of Contemporary Fiction, University of Chichester and award-winning novelist and writer of short stories, Patrick Cotter: Administrator of the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, Cathy Galvin: Co-founder of the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and founder of the Word Factory, Ra Page: CEO of Comma Press (which specialises in publishing short stories), Diana Reich: Artistic Director Charleston Festival and Small Wonder Short Story Festival, Di Speirs: Editor, Books, BBC Radio and originator of the BBC National Short Story Award.

Small Wonder Festival booking information
In person:
Brighton Dome, 29 New Road, Brighton, BN1 1UG
By phone: 01273 709709

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