Jonathan Tel wins the 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award

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Jonathan Tel has won the 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award with ‘The Human Phonograph’, a beautifully observed story of a marriage lived in the shadow of the Chinese nuclear weapons programme of the 1960s. He was previously shortlisted in 2014 for his story, ‘The Shoe King of Shanghai’.

Tel beat off strong competition from five other exceptional writers – this year’s was a truly international shortlist of great breadth and skill. Alongside Tel, it comprised American Edith Pearlman, author of over 250 works of short fiction; the Irish writer Colum McCann, Man Booker longlisted author of Transatlantic; Zimbabwe’s Petina Gappah, winner of theGuardian First Book Award and longlisted for the Baileys Prize 2016; American writer Alix Christie and Canadiannovelist Nicholas Ruddock, both of whom set their stories in European cities.

‘The Human Phonograph’ is set in the mysterious Factory 221 in Qinghai and examines the relationship between a husband and wife who have not seen each other for seven years.

Judge and best-selling author, Rose Tremain commented, ‘The hesitant relationship between a husband and wife who barely know each other forms the basis of this troubling, well-wrought story, set on a Chinese nuclear base in the 1960s and 70s.  But it is the image taken from the title – of a man who, in a silent, punitive and desolate world, can remember the old songs and sing them perfectly every time – that elevates it to something truly memorable. The decision to award the prize to this work was unanimous among the judges and we all feel that Jonathan Tel has a bright future as a fiction writer’.

Andrew Holgate, judge and literary editor of the Sunday Times said, ‘Jonathan Tel’s winning story is a remarkable and very moving feat of storytelling and it’s all the more remarkable when you consider the huge number of entries we had this year – over 800, a record for the prize.’

The winner was announced at a gala dinner hosted by EFG at Stationers’ Hall in London on Friday 22nd April.

The 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award is the world’s richest prize for a single short story. This, its seventh year, sees the award again cementing its reputation for showcasing both established and emerging writers.

As winner, Jonathan Tel will receive £30,000. The five other shortlisted writers will each receive £1,000.

This year’s judging panel comprises broadcaster and novelist Melvyn Bragg; critic and commentator Alex Clark; novelist and short story-writer Mark Haddon, and award-winning author Rose Tremain. Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of TheSunday Times, completes the line-up, alongside the non-voting chair of judges Lord Matthew Evans, who co-founded the award in 2010.

Readers can read the winning and shortlisted stories on the new website for the

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