• Short.Sharp.Stories

    A competition for South Africans who write

    Powered by the National Arts Festival

    The Short.Sharp.Stories Award aims to encourage, support and showcase
    established and emerging South African writing talent


    The Short Sharp Stories Award for South African Short Story Fiction is made each year by the National Arts Festival. The theme set for writers changes every year. A panel of independent judges select a shortlist of 20 stories, with the BEST STORY and the BEST NEW VOICE winning cash prizes.


    The top three stories will be available to read online. The winning pieces, together with the other shortlisted stories, will be available for purchase as an ebook – watch this space for information about the launch and other details.

  • Instant Exposure

    The theme for 2018

    Every photograph tells a story. We live in an age in which increasingly we all take or view photographs. Visual language is growing and developing every day as we record our world and our experiences in visual terms. One could go as far as to say that every one of us has, by default, become a photographer as billions of images are uploaded online at any given moment.


    We invite writers to find a provocative photograph which inspires a powerful story. The image can be a spontaneously captured selfie, a bold news pic, a childhood snap in an old album; perhaps a framed tribute that brings back memories of joy, or a hidden print that haunts your past. It doesn't matter if the photo is a portrait of a loved one or an evocative landscape, or if it is colour or black and white – all that is important is that the photograph has meaning to you. We encourage you to ‘find your story’ – the humour, the pathos, the drama – in the image.


    We’re looking for stories with strong narrative drive, and characters and settings that reflect our South African experience and diversity.


    Deadline 30 November 2017


  • Rules & How to Enter

    Here's what you need to know to participate


    • The competition is open to South African citizens and residents of South Africa, who are 18 years of age and older.
    • Stories must be previously unpublished fiction.
    • Stories must be written in English.
    • Stories are to be between 3000 and 5000 words in length (which will enable submission to the Caine Prize).
    • Only one story per author is to be considered in any one year.
    • The story must fall within the bounds of the brief provided on shortsharpstories.com.
    • A cash prize of R20 000 (twenty thousand Rand) will be awarded for BEST STORY. A cash prize of R5 000 (five thousand Rand) will be awarded for BEST NEW VOICE.
    • Further cash prizes may be awarded at the discretion of the judges.
    • Selected writer(s) will be invited to read at, and to participate in events at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2018. Transport and accommodation will be paid for winning writer(s), provided they are resident in South Africa.
    • Copyright of stories will remain with the writers, although writers may be requested to publish in partnering online and print media.
    • An independent panel of judges will choose the winning stories from the shortlist of 20 stories.
    • While under consideration stories are not to be submitted elsewhere.
    • Each entry must be accompanied with a signed entry form.
    • Entries may not be submitted under pseudonyms.
    • Closing date for submission of stories is 30 November 2017.
    • Shortlisted writers will be notified by email.
    • Authors whose stories are selected will be expected to submit a good quality head-and-shoulders photograph suitable for publication in the book.
    • The judges' decisions is final.
    • Note that stories will be edited in order to ensure a publication of the highest standard.



    Send an email to enter@shortsharpstories.com

    Submissions should be accompanied by the signed declaration that you can download here.
    Stories are preferably to be set in 11 point, Times Roman, at 1.5 line spacing.
    Entries should be sent as a file attachment in one of the following file formats: PDF (.pdf), Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf).

  • Anthologies

    Collections of the best stories, released by Burnet Media since 2013

    2017: Trade Secrets

    Whether secrets of State, the workplace or of the family, TRADE SECRETS delivers a range of stories guaranteed to titillate, delight and surprise. We bring you memorable characters and settings that reflect our South African diversity.



    Liesl Jobson, Phakama Mbonambi and Tim Richman.



    Mishka Hoosen, Amy Heydenrych, Ntsika Gogwana, Sally Partridge, Olufemi Agunbiade, Darrel Bristow-Bovey, Megan Ross, Philip Vermaas, Linda Daniels, Pravasan Pillay, Andrew Salomon, Frieda-Marie De Jager, Bobby Jordan, Kamil Naicker, Mapule Mohulatsi, Jumani Clarke, Michael Yee, Stephen Symons, Sally Ann Murray, Kerry Hammerton, Sean Mayne

    The Editor
    Joanne Hichens, is an author, editor and creative writing teacher. She has written three crime fiction novels, as well as Young Adult novels. She has edited seven collections of short story anthologies. She was curator of the SHORT.SHARP.STORIES awards from 2013 to 2017.


    Book details

    Editor: Joanne Hichens

    Foreword: Yewande Omotoso

    ISBN: 978-0-9946805-3-2

    Publisher: Tattoo Press


    2016: Die Laughing

    DIE LAUGHING is an anthology of wit, satire and humour, with writers poking fun at our crazy country – at our politics, idiosyncrasies and down-right ridiculous habits. A number of stories look on the lighter, brighter side of life, and, of course, dark humour is included too.



    Foreword by our National Treasure, Evita Bezuidenhout and an introduction by Darrel Bristow-Bovey. New voices as well as prize-winning authors, including Greg Lazarus, Gail Schimmel, Fred Khumalo, Stephen Symons, Kobus Moolman, Ofentse Ribane, Barbara Erasmus and Diane Awerbuck


    Other awards

    Winner of the 2016 National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Best Edited Collection. Two contributors – Bongani Kona and Lidudumalingani – were nominated for the 2016 Caine Prize, with Lidudmalingani selected as the winner.

    The Editor
    Joanne Hichens, is an author, editor and creative writing teacher. She was curator of the SHORT.SHARP.STORIES awards from 2013 to 2017.


    Book Details
    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    Foreword: Evita Bezuidenhout
    ISBN / EAN: 9780994680518

    2015: Incredible Journey

    The Book
    INCREDIBLE JOURNEY focuses on a journey, be it political, personal or emotional – and the incredible journeys in this collection vary from road trips to mind trips, and are by turns inspirational, intriguing, and entertaining. The writers on the shortlist all successfully capture uniquely South African voices, and move the reader.


    The Judges
    Henrietta Rose-Innes, Ken Barris and Makhosazana Xaba, with a foreword to the collection by Sindiwe Magona.


    Book details
    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    ISBN / EAN 9781928230182
    Imprint Mercury
    Publisher Burnet Media
    Distributor Jacana

    2014: Adults Only

    The Book

    Within the pages of ADULTS ONLY lies a wonderful range of modern sex writing; stories that are raw, dangerous and powerful, as well as those that are delicate, sensitive and poignant.

    The Contributors

    Foreword by Helena S. Paige, and an introduction by Makhosazana Xaba. Shortlisted authors include Ken Barris, Efemia Chela, Christine Coates, Anthony Ehlers, Chantelle Gray van Heerden, Bobby Jordan, Aryan Kaganof, Donvé Lee, Carla Lever, Justine Loots, Alexander Matthews, Sean Mayne, Wamuwi Mbao, Dudumalingani Mqombothi, Tiffany Kagure Mugo, Nick Mulgrew, Gillian Rennie, Arja Salafranca, Alex Smith, Jo Stielau, Alan Walters, Eugene Yiga.


    Book details

    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    ISBN / EAN: 9781928230007

    2013: BloodySatisfied

    The Book

    BLOODY SATISFIED is a collection of thrilling twist-in-the-tale stories that make good on the ‘Bloody Satisfied’ promise: slick and sexy stories that brim with danger and elements of the sinister; sophisticated stories that focus on the subtler crimes of everyday life; smart stories that invert expectations and linger in the mind.


    The Judges

    Sarah Lotz, Fred Khumalo and John Maytham


    The Contributors

    Dawn Garisch (Best Story), Roger Smith (Best Thriller), T.O. Molefe (Most Original Story), Liam Kruger (Best New Voice), Roger Smith, Yewande Omotso, Peter Church, Greg Lazarus, Nechama Brodie, Chris Nicholson, Osiame Molefe, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Sandile Memela, Dawn Garisch, Peter Merrington, Siphiwo Mahala, Anthony Ehlers, Jill Morsbach, Liam Kruger, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Anirood Singh, Andrew Salomon, Mncedise Thambe, Jo Stielau, Colin Ward and Melissa Siebert. Foreword by Deon Meyer and afterword by Michael Stanley.


    Book details

    Editor: Joanne Hichens
    ISBN / EAN: 9780987043733
    Imprint: Mercury

    Publisher: Burnet Media