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Exploring worlds of imagination: Winners announced in EM Forster Prose Fiction Prize

Tonbridge boys were complimented on their “great imagination” and “wonderful descriptive techniques” by the writer judging this year’s EM Forster Prose Fiction Prize.

Emily LaBarge has written for Granta, Bookforum, the London Review of Books, Frieze and The Paris Review, among many other publications, and also teaches at the Royal College of Art.

In delivering her adjudication, Emily said how much fun she had reading the boys’ entries, adding she was especially drawn to pieces showing the greatest story-telling craft. 

Prizes in the annual competition – run by the English Department and named, of course, after the famous Old Tonbridgian and novelist – were awarded in three categories: Novi, Intermediate (Second and Third Years) and Sixth Form. 

Xavier Gait (Sc1) was the Novi winner for his “vivid and moving story”, The Hero. Emily wrote: “From the gripping opening lines, we are plunged into a mysterious world of intrigue, hardship, struggle and sometimes violence. Description is powerfully evocative, drawing us in immediately and holding our attention to the last moment.” 

The Intermediate Prize went to Alex Wan (HS3) for his “elaborate” and “beautifully written” story, Enough. Emily summed up as follows: “The author sets out in arresting, often jarring and highly charged imagery the plight of his main characters, a female animal/beast who is also a form of technology under surveillance and control … even with characters who are slightly alien, great attention is paid to emotional insight.” 

Matt Smith (JH4) won the Sixth Form category for Aztecs in Space. “By turns fantastic, imaginative, historical, futuristic, this short story is energetic, compelling, funny, and unpredictable”, Emily enthused. “The thrust of the narrative is seamless, moving from the protagonist’s past to present to harrowing future.”

For Matt this is a ‘literary double’, as he also won the Staveley Poetry Prize, for the Senior category, earlier this term.

EM Forster Prose Fiction Prize 2022: Results.

1st: Xavier Gait (SH1), The Hero
2nd: Jacob Ayala (WH1), Where the River Flows
3rd: Luca Krishnan (Sc1), A Master of Thievery

Intermediate (Second and Third Years) 
1st: Alex Wan (HS3), Enough
2nd: Henry Wang (MH3), The Tyger
3rd: Alexander Young (PS2), A Burning Background

Sixth Form
1st:  Matt Smith (JH4), Aztecs in Space
2nd: Andrew Sergeef (FH4), The Voyage West
3rd: Tobe Onyia (FH4), untitled