THE SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY SHORT STORY COMPETITION JULY-2011
First Prize: The Maitre d’ – Leo Madigan (Fatima, Portugal)
Second Prize: Children of the Rubble – Julia Bohanna (Caversham)
Third Prize: Dinner for Two – Warren Paul Glover (Woollahra, Australia)
Once Upon A Time – John Palmgren (Swindon, Wilts.)
And I Smiled for my Daddy – Barbara Maines Berg (Byhalia, Ms. USA)
The Pancake Maker’s Apprentice – Anya Cates (Hitchin, Herts.)
The winning and commended stories will be published in Sentinel Champions magazine #9. February 2012.
Stories can work at many levels, have different strengths, independent of whatever themes are explored. The main strength of a story sticks with us after reading; makes the strongest impression on us. It could be a cleverly-woven plot, a setting brought to palpable life, or an intimate voice that echoes in our heads and hearts in the sheer ordinariness of its genuineness.
The stories I have selected as winners have one thing in common: a strong and convincing (narrative) voice, which imbues the stories with ‘the potent magic of verisimilitude’. A strong voice springs from a well-envisioned character, and character is (in my opinion) the main leg of the tripod upon which a story rests.
These stories also hit the ground running and do not waste words and valuable space on connective narrative, but zero in, in medias res, on substance in each scene. Short stories can scarcely afford the luxury of unnecessary details.
In ‘The Maitre d’, the writer brilliantly employs an apt register and tone; the protagonist is all too human, coldly scheming and heart-warmingly tender at the same time. ‘Children of the Rubble’ skilfully introduces us to the lives of children caught in the demented world of their mother, while Dinner for Two is a mischievous little tale about duplicity.
The above stories are those I found most memorable and engaging out of many other memorable and well-written stories submitted for this competition.
Kachi A. Ozumba