BBC National Short Story Award: Kerry Andrew


18 September 2018
Kerry-Andrew-square-portrait-photo-by-Urszula-Soltys-20241.jpg Kerry Andrew by Urszula Soltys
Every day this week we're featuring an extract from each of the writers shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. Today's featured author is Kerry Andrew


Every day this week we're featuring an extract from each of the writers shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. Today's featured author is Kerry Andrew

Also shortlisted, and due to be featured on BBC Radio 4's Front Row and then here, are Sarah Hall, Ingrid Persaud, Kiare Ladner and Nell Stevens.


To Belong To (extract)
Kerry Andrews

This is a good place to die.

He stands at the edge. The height sends the hangover lurching to his stomach. The closeness of toes to air.

Below, the sea is bladed, black. A thousand fulmars stipple the cliffs either side of him, their cries a blur. On the lowest rocks, a little way out, are the thicker brushstrokes of seals, resting. There had been talk of hearing their song, but if it is there, it is blunted by the wind.

He curls his toes. The ground curves, falls away gently, almost inviting it.

There will be a short moment of great pain. His head might catch on a rock. His back break. But once he has made the decision to jump, he will have to take whatever comes.

One movement. A footstep, into nothing.

In the sea, by the seal rocks, there is a small spot, bobbing. A lone adventurer perhaps, going further out to find the fish.

Another moment or two, to listen for the singing.

He closes his eyes, holds his arms out. The Angel of the North, transported to the outer edge of the country. He stands as still as he is able.

When he opens his eyes again, the spot has moved past the others, towards the cliffs.

He watches, wind pummelling the length of his arms.

In the shallows, it rises, and is not a seal. Long slabs of flesh, dark at the ends. The woman stands for a moment, looking back out to sea, and he thinks he hears something, words or a melody. Then she is turning, walking the few steps over the paler stones to a strung ladder that he had not noticed, tucked in at the bottom of the rocks. His eyes trace the journey that she must take, move just ahead of her as she scrambles over turf and quickly crosses two unsecured planks of wood. A rope, glinting silver, zigzags up the cliff and she ascends, once or twice leaning outwards, very close to the edge.

She disappears for a moment in the fold of the hill and he waits, his eyes on the sodden green line where she must appear. He puts his arms by his sides.

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A fulmar passes at head height. He can see the architecture of its beak.


She walks towards him, clothed now. Sports leggings, a fleece. The gloves and socks she was wearing gone. Her hair is mostly slicked back, a short cap of it, glints of blue or green, almost mineral. Her arms are folded, shoulders hunched. She keeps walking towards him and for a moment he wonders if he has jumped, that his body lies dismantled on the stones, before she stops right next to him.

Push me, he thinks.

She stares up at him. Hard, brown eyes. ‘Come on,’ she says, before striding past.

And he does.



The thirteenth BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University revealed an all-female shortlist on Friday 14th September, with writers exploring the personal, universal and the political. Former winner Sarah Hall is shortlisted for the third time for Sudden Traveller. Hall is joined on the shortlist by composer and debut novelist Kerry Andrew for To Belong To, Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner and debut novelist Ingrid Persaud for The Sweet Sop, rising talent Kiare Ladner for Van Rensburg’s Card and creative writing lecturer and novelist Nell Stevens for The Minutes.
The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was established to raise the profile of the short form and this year’s shortlist join distinguished alumni such as Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain and Mark Haddon. As well as rewarding the most renowned short story writers, the Award has raised the profile of new writers including K J Orr and Cynan Jones.

The winners of the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on 2nd October on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. The shortlisted stories are available in an anthology published by Comma Press, out now:



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