Cambridge Flash Fiction Prize 2001: Judge’s Report

Judge’s Report by Marie Gethins

Judging the 2021 Cambridge Flash Fiction Prize has been an immense pleasure. Flash fiction lends itself to experimentation and this long list has a wonderful diversity in locations, topics, points-of-view and approaches. I enjoyed reading and re-reading these entries over many days — silently and out loud. Results inevitably bring joy and disappointment. However, submission is an act of bravery and I look forward to those that didn’t quite make it here to finding homes in the coming months. Thank you for the privilege of your words. Hearty congratulations to the winners.

First: Anatomy of the Aftermath, by Karen Jones

A magnificent surreal exploration of grief made fresh through startling images, sparse language and superb use of subtext. Everything works vigorously in this piece. From the arresting opening line to the perfect close, the author reels out information through dark humour to form a poignant story arc. Precise details, strong verbs, variation of sentence structure, a perfectly-timed single quote and excellent title, this flash is striking from the first look, yet gains and gains upon additional readings.

Second: The Shooter’s Moment of Mindfulness, by Joe Eurell

Sensory details really lift this realistic piece, as well as skillful weaving of present and past into a smooth whole. Grabbing my attention from the first two lines, I was totally immersed in the scene. Quite a lot of ground is covered with the protagonist and the writer expertly plays with expectations. The voice is very strong and believable, use of the second person works well.

Third: Breathe, by Kathy Hoyle

A great use of repetition and economy of detail that spans a large swath of life/relationship and the many connected emotions with this journey. The prose has a strong, pulsating rhythm driving it forward, reflecting its content and title. Another good use of second person to draw in the reader.

Highly Commended

Traces of the Harvest, by Alex Reece Abbott

I enjoyed the mix of folklore and family lore in this flash with many memorable phrases. The narrator’s shift to convenient, modern packaged blackberries and reflections on loss are moving.

Instructions for overcoming a fear of darkness, by Ruth Bradhsaw

Reverse structure works well in this piece, as well as the repetition of the starting phrase of each paragraph.

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