‘Conjuring new worlds’: Author praises boys’ writing

Tonbridge boys earned warm praise from the award-winning writer who judged the school’s recent EM Forster Short Story Competition.

Adam Marek, pictured, author of the story collections Instruction Manual for Swallowing and The Stone Thrower, said there was “so much impressive writing” on display as he worked his way through the entries, adding: “It was a pleasure to have my imagination pulled from World War II to haunted houses, and from the womb to dystopian cities.” 

Prizes were awarded in three categories: Novi, Second and Third Year and Sixth Form. Edward Lee (SH1) was the Novi winner for his war story, Behind enemy lines – to die, to sleep, about which Adam wrote: “This story has everything – well-drawn characters, high stakes, jeopardy, and conflict on a personal and global level. And it’s written with confidence. You can tell Ed enjoyed bringing this world to life and sharing it.” 

Tom Kwok (MH2) won the Second and Third Year category for Breaking in, a comedy about a bungled burglary. “The two thieves, one inept, and one frustrated, are skilfully drawn. The satisfying surprise is a hallmark of great short fiction, and Tom pulls it off well here,” Adam summed up.

The Sixth Form prize was awarded to Sam Hudson (CH5) for The book, described as “a terrific story set in a 1984-esque dystopia, where a fiction writer works under the thumb of an oppressive state. Sam creates brilliant tension, and a real sense of jeopardy, as we wait to see how the Ministry will respond to the writer’s latest work. Expertly handled.”

The author added: “I chose the stories in which it was clear the writer had the reader in mind … whether that’s to transport, to terrify, to excite or to move. Each of these winning entries successfully conjured a new world and held me there. Thank you to all the writers of Tonbridge School and keep up the great work.”

Adam won the 2011 Arts Foundation Short Story Fellowship and was shortlisted for the inaugural Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. His stories have appeared on BBC Radio 4 and in various magazines and anthologies, including Prospect, The Sunday Times Magazine and The Penguin Book of the British Short Story. 

EM Forster Short Story Competition, May 2020: Results.

1st: Behind enemy lines – to die, to sleep by Edward Lee (SH1)

2nd: The crash at the end of the universe by Isaac King (CH1)

3rd: The visitor by Henry Gustard (WH1)

Second and Third Year 
1st: Breaking in by Tom Kwok (MH2)

2nd: Swaddling by Jamie Lambert (Sc3)

3rd: The one with the big nose by Dominic Leo (PH3)

Honourable mentions: 
An undiscovered country by Felix Crispin (CH2)
Leviticus 14:33-57 by William Coombs (CH2)

Sixth Form
1st:  The book by Sam Hudson (CH5)

2nd: S.Y.A.P. by Patrick Davies Jones (Sc4)

3rd: Yearn to breathe free by Sam Hudson (CH5)

Honourable mention: 
The poor soul of Rowley Richards by Jamie Whitney (Sc5)

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