My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Perhaps my expectations were too high because these stories are the seven shortlisted short stories for the prestigious Dinesh Allirajah Prize 2019, but I admit that I was left feeling a little disappointed.
Two of the stories stand out above the others. They are In UK Now by Carol McKay and The Power of Suggestion by Johanna Robinson.
In UK Now is a powerful and intimate story about the clash of cultures, told from the point of view of Noora, a wife, mother and refugee. She is facing very serious issues as a result of her family and societal culture.
The Power of Suggestion shows how hypnotism for entertainment can go so badly wrong. The story could go either way: comedy or drama. I promise you that the effects of the show are dramatic. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.
The remaining five stories are fairly good but I have read much better short stories, so I am surprised that these made it onto the shortlist of such a top competition. The runners-up in Writing Magazine, each month are usually much better at capturing my interest.
I was surprised to be distracted by a number of grammatical errors and typos which had got past the proof-readers, editors and judges. Here are two examples:
“Two days past and I wondered if there would be any awkwardness between us.”
“He left one under the skirts of a flouncy armchair in the living where it decayed and started producing juicy beige maggots.”
My main reason for reading this book was to get an idea of the standards that I should be aiming for when writing short stories for competitions. I am still not much wiser.