On-Campus Open Days

National literary award for Chichester alumna

AN ALUMNA of the University of Chichester has spoken of her delight after winning the BBC National Short Story Award.

Writer Katherine Orr, a recent PhD graduate in English and Creative Writing, triumphed at the ceremony earlier this month.

The all-female shortlist had included two-time Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, Lavinia Greenlaw, Tahmima Anam, and Claire-Louise Bennett.

The London-born author, who writes as K J Orr, won for Disappearances which appears in her debut collection of stories, Light Box, published earlier this year.

Speaking of the award, which was presented live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, she said: “I was shortlisted for the prize in 2011 when I was just starting to put my collection together.

“It was truly lovely to win the year Light Box was published - and both a shock and a tremendous honour given the calibre of the shortlist. I had not expected to win.”

Set in Buenos Aires, Disappearances delves into the perceptions of a retired plastic surgeon who frequents a cafe to watch a waitress at work – an idea the award-winning author developed following time spent travelling in Argentina.

Orr’s PhD, which focused on the short story form and included both creative and critical work, was supervised by the University’s Professor Alison MacLeod, herself nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2013.

Professor MacLeod, of the Department of English and Creative Writing, said: “I couldn't be happier for Katherine - she has long been dedicated to the short story form, and the Award will be an incredibly well deserved boost to her wonderful debut collection.

Light Box - by K J Orr“Katherine was completely surprised as the announcement was made, but I was not, she is a writer of huge talents.”

The University of Chichester graduate was commended by judge and author Kei Miller for producing “a near-perfect example of how the short story works – a small world that’s perfectly observed.”

BBC Radio 4 presenter Di Speirs, the station’s book editor who also sat on the adjudicating panel, added: “KJ Orr’s precision and clarity, her ability to expose a life in a line and to induce sympathy and disdain, linger long after reading the final paragraph.”

To find out more about K J Orr, her award-winning short story Disappearances, and her collection Light Box, visit www.kjorr.com.

Alternatively for more about studying for a PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester visit www.chi.ac.uk/department-english-and-creative-writing.

Main photo of K J Orr by Lottie Davies