I had this crazy idea that I would read the whole Booker Prize short list before the award is announced. I now seriously doubt that will happen. The amount of reading I feel I need to do for my classes keeps growing.
A slightly more manageable goal presented itself last week, when a writer with strong Galway connections, Julian Gough, was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award. His story, The iHole, is about the latest technology must-have: a portable black hole.
I wanted to read The iHole and the nine other stories on the shortlist before the announcement of the winner. The ceremony was scheduled for today, October 2, and has already happened in real time but I’m avoiding those corners of the internet (like Twitter, where I follow Julian Gough and first learned about the contest).
When I tried to track down the stories, I was taken to the BBC website, where recordings of each of the stories were available for download. So starting with The iHole at 2pm and listening in approximately 30-minute increments throughout the rest of the day – on my iPhone, natch – I’m just about to start the final story. Then I’ll go track down the winner and see if I agree.
I’m not sure if I like this downloads-of-readings-of-short-stories format, but it’s what had to be done today. I admit, I didn’t pay close enough attention to some of the entries, because short stories aren’t quite as good for walking the commute as the 90s nostalgia playlist I’ve been rocking since I got here.
Briefly: I liked The iHole, but it might rely too much on satire to win an international prize. There were a lot of Aussie stories, and I liked them all, but Before He Left the Family was probably the one I liked most. I was most intrigued by the Russian doll structure of In the Basement. And I have to be honest, I haven’t been paying adequate attention to this final entry, Sanctuary.
So here it is, I’m about to Google the winner… East of the West by Miroslav Penkov. It’s set in Bulgaria, and I believe this one was abridged.