Entertainment & Arts

Hilary Mantel up for short story award

Hilary Mantel
Image caption Mantel won the Man Booker prize for Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel's controversial short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award.

Stories by Jonathan Buckley, Mark Haddon, Frances Leviston and Jeremy Page have also made the shortlist, which was announced on BBC Radio 4's Front Row earlier.

The award, which is in its 10th year, is open to writers resident in the UK.

The £15,000 prize is given in tandem with the Book Trust charity.

Mantel's controversial story was published in a collection of 10 short stories in September 2014.

Set four years after Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979, Mantel's story imagines an IRA attempt on her life.

Lord Tebbit called it a "sick book from a sick mind" when it was announced it was to be broadcast as a Book at Bedtime on Radio 4.

But Mantel, a double Booker winner, dismissed such criticisms, saying her story had "the form of a debate".

"My title story... demonstrates how very easily history could have worked out in a different way," she told The Guardian .

"The story speaks for itself, and I stand behind it."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Haddon's story is described as "a sharp take on toxic relationships"

Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is nominated for his story Bunny, about a morbidly obese young man who makes an unlikely friend.

Poet Frances Leviston writes about mother-daughter tensions in her story Broderie Anglaise, while Jonathan Buckley, a novelist and former Rough Guides editor, tells of a psychic investigating a missing teenager in Briar Road.

In the fifth shortlisted story - Do It Now, Jump The Table - playwright and screenwriter Jeremy Page writes of a young man meeting his girlfriend's parents for the first time.

None of the five writers have been shortlisted for the award before.

There were 438 entries this year, and award judge Ian Rankin said it was "really tough to whittle the list down".

"The quality was matched by variety of approach and subject matter, leaving me in no doubt as to the continuing robust good health of the form," he said.

The winner of the award will be announced at a ceremony on 6 October that will be broadcast live on Front Row.

Previous winners include Julian Gough, James Lasdun, Lionel Shriver and Clare Wigfall.

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