Sarah Hall, photo credit: Richard Thwaites  


'A strong but unheralded contender for most influential fiction writer...'
- The Sunday Times, 2020.

Sarah Hall book covers
Burntcoat book cover Burntcoat
Publication date: October 2021
Paperback released: 2nd June 2022

The Paperback Launch of Burntcoat was on:
24th June 2022

At The Farmers Arms in South Cumbria: |

An electrifying novel of passion, connection and transformation from 'a writer of show-stopping genius' (Guardian), Burntcoat was published on 10 October in the UK and on 2 November 2021 in the USA. Hall began writing the novel on the first day of national lockdown in March 2020.

You were the last one here, before I closed the door of Burntcoat. Before we all closed our doors.

In the bedroom above her immense studio at Burntcoat, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness is making her final preparations. The symptoms are well known: her life will draw to an end in the coming days.

Downstairs, the studio is a crucible glowing with memories and desire. It was here, when the first lockdown came, that she brought Halit. The lover she barely knew. A presence from another culture. A doorway into a new and feverish world.

'The absolute stand-out for me this year has been Burntcoat, the new novel by Sarah Hall. It's a slim, perfectly-formed gem of a book, an extraordinarily visceral take on sex, grief, creativity, disease, death and the strange mania of lockdown. I have no idea how she turned it around so quickly, but Burntcoat is absolutely the artistic response to the world that we need right now.'
Kirstin Innes, The List

More information and event dates

15th BBC National Short Story Award The 2020 BBC National Short Story Award

Four-time nominated Sarah Hall has won the fifteenth BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) for the second time with 'The Grotesques', a 'timeless and unsettling story' set against a backdrop of privilege and inequality in a university town. Exploring themes of powerlessness and privilege, dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships, covert control, identity and scapegoating, the judges praised Hall for her 'extraordinary', 'layered' and 'masterful' writing and cited her second time win as 'recognition of her standing as the countryís foremost writer of short stories'.

The first double win in the Award's history, the news was announced live on BBC Front Row by Chair of Judges Jonathan Freedland in a special programme celebrating 15 years of the Award. 'The Grotesques' is available to listen to on BBC Sounds and appears in Hall's latest collection Sudden Traveller,, published by Faber in 2019. Its titular story was also shortlisted for the Award in 2018.

The news was announced live on BBC Front Row this evening (Tuesday 6 October) by 2020 Chair of Judges Jonathan Freedland:

Sudden Traveller Paperback Cover Sudden Traveller
By Sarah Hall
Paperback publication date: 15th October 2020
Faber & Faber

'Astonishing, miraculous, a gift.' Daisy Johnson
'The queen of dark short fiction' Guardian

Sudden Traveller is Sarah Hallís third story collection. Featuring her signature themes of identity, eroticism and existential quest, these new stories travel far afield in location and ambition.

From Turkish forests to rain-drenched Cumbrian villages, Hallís characters walk, drive, dream and fly, trying to reconcile themselves with their journeys through life, death, and love. Science fiction meets folktale and philosophy meets mortality.
Click here for more...

Who Pays? Who Pays?
By Sarah Hall

5 Men, a Sack of Beer and a Forest With a Magical Well.
In this fairy tale, written exclusively for T, a mysterious accident occurs deep in the Turkish woods.
Commissioned by The New York Times Magazine
Who Pays? By Sarah Hall

Photograph by Patricia Heal. Set design by Theresa Rivera

2017 Man Booker prize 2017 Man Booker prize.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders wins 2017 Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize was established in 1969. The winner receives £50,000 as well as the £2,500 awarded to each of the shortlisted authors. Both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a worldwide readership plus an increase in book sales.

Sarah is on the judging panel for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Sarah has previously judged a number of prestigious literary prizes and awards, including the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize, the Folio Prize, the BBC Radio 4 National Short Story Award, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, The David Cohen Prize, the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, and the Northern Rock Awards.

The 2017 shortlist:
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)

Dates and Events:
10 October - Shortlisted authors evening chaired by Sandeep Mahal, Lakeside Arts Theatre, Nottingham
14 October - The Cheltenham Booker: 1937, Cheltenham Literature Festival
14 October - The 2017 Man Booker Prize shortlist chaired by Gaby Wood, Cheltenham Literature Festival
16 October Ė Shortlisted authors readings, Southbank Centre, London
17 October Ė Winner announced: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

More information and event tickets:

Madame Zero book cover Madame Zero
Publication date: July 2017

She is running and becoming smaller, running and becoming smaller, running in the light of the reddening sun, the red of her hair and her coat falling, the red of her fur and her body loosening. Running. Holding behind her a sudden, brazen object, white-tipped. Her yellow scarf trails in the briar. All vestiges shed.

Madame Zero is a book of sometimes conflicting landscapes - rural, industrial, psychological - all of which are hauntingly resonant with dread. Whether set in an apocalyptic storm, local swimming pool, or surgical theatre, Hall's stories always inhabit the hinterland between the natural and urban, the mundane and surreal, human and animal.

'So fearsomely excellent it almost hurt to read. Truly the best collection Iíve come across in a decade.' Wells Tower. Click here for more...

Sarah Hall was born in the Lake District in 1974. She received a BA joint honours in English and Art History from Aberystwyth University, Wales, and an MLitt in Creative Writing from St Andrews, Scotland. Sarah has lived in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the USA, and she is currently based in the South Lakes.

She is the author of Haweswater, which won the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel, a Society of Authors Betty Trask Award, and a Lakeland Book of the Year prize.

In 2004, at the age of 30, her second novel, The Electric Michelangelo, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia region), and the Prix Femina Etranger (France), and long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Her third novel, The Carhullan Army, (Daughters of the North, USA) was published in 2007, and won the 2006/07 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, a Lakeland Book of the Year prize; it was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction, and long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Award. The Carhullan Army was listed as one of The Times 100 Best Books of the Decade. The television rights are held by Fable Pictures Limited for development as a series.

Her fourth novel, How To Paint A Dead Man,was published in 2009, was long-listed for the Man Booker prize and won the Portico Prize for Fiction 2010.

The Wolf Border, her fifth novel, was published in 2015, to much critical acclaim, and was shortlisted for The Southbank Sky Arts Awards and the James Tate Memorial Black prize, and it won the 2015 Cumbria Life Culture Awards 'Writer of the Year' prize.

Her first collection of short stories, titled The Beautiful Indifference, was published by Faber & Faber in November 2011. The Beautiful Indifference won the Portico Prize for Fiction 2012 and the Edge Hill short story prize, and it was also short-listed for the Frank O'Connor Prize. The story Butcher’s Perfume was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award.

Her second collection, Madame Zero, was published in 2017. It was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize (winning the 'Readers' Prize' category) and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Fiction category. The lead story, Mrs Fox, won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2013. The story Goodnight Nobody won an O'Henry Prize in the USA. The story Evie was shortlisted for the Sunday Times (EFG/Audible) Prize.

Sarah's third short story collection, Sudden Traveller, was published in November 2019. The title story was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018, making her the only author to be three times shortlisted for this prize. She went on to win the BBC National Short Story Award for The Grotesques, another story in the collection, and is the only author to have won the award twice. The Grotesques was also honored as a finalist for the 2020 ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Award for Fiction. The collection was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial prize and The Edge Hill prize.

Her short stories have been widely published and recorded, including by the following outlets and periodicals - The Guardian, New Statesman, T Magazine (The New York Times), One Story (USA), Sotheby's, The Amorist, T24 (Independent Turkish media), Granta, English Heritage, Zoetrope, BBC Radio 4, Audible Originals, Royal Academy Magazine, Vice, and Comma Press.

Sarah's sixth novel, Burntcoat, was published by Faber & Faber, UK, and Custom House (Harper Collins, USA) in 2021.

Her work is published throughout the world and has been translated into more than fifteen languages. She has performed at numerous literary festivals in the UK and around the world and has been a participant of British Council conferences and seminars abroad, most recently discussing new British Nature Writing in Germany with Robert MacFarlane.

Sarah Hall is Professor of Practice at the University of Cumbria and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is an honorary fellow of Aberystwyth University and the University of Cumbria, and a fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy. She is a recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters EM Forster Award, and she was included in the Granta Best Young British Novelists list 2013.

She has judged a number of prestigious literary awards and prizes including the inaugural Folio Prize (now Rathbones Folio Prize), the Man Booker Prize, the David Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award, the Sunday Times (EFG/Audible) and BBC National Short Story Awards, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Award.

She has been a member of the Arts Council Northwest region, responsible for investment in the arts.

For almost 20 years Sarah has been teaching creative writing, including for the Faber Academy, The Guardian Master-classes, the Arvon Foundation. She has tutored in a variety of establishments in the UK and abroad. She a currently a mentor for the Gold Dust scheme.

She frequently publishes works of journalism, including reviews, op-eds and provocations, commentates for BBC Radio 4, and she has presented radio and television documentaries for outlets such as the BBC and Sky Arts.


Latest News:

RiverAction's #votecleanrivers campaign Sarah is taking a little time out from editing a new novel to help RiverAction's #votecleanrivers campaign. Sarah was brought up beside the River Lowther in Cumbria and has swum in rivers all her life.

The Guardian. An alternative guide to the Lakes: how to escape Cumbriaís twee side:

Faber Editions: A Celebration with Sarah Hall, 23rd November:

Sarah is a contributor to Radio 3's The Wicker Man Verb:

Being on Granta's best young novelists list has its drawbacks. Sarah Hall:

Burntcoat has been longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award 2023:

Sarah Hall - Critical Essays has recently been published:

Sarah is a panelist on BBC R4 Open Book on nature writing:

Sarah will be appearing at the Gan Yam Brew Co. Festival of Music, Craft and Culture "LANDMARKS" in December

Burntcoat is The Guardian audiobook of the week:

Burntcoat made The Times best paperbacks 2022:

Burntcoat has been shortlisted for the literature category of the South Bank Sky Arts Awards:

Sarah has a new short story called 'Be Good' published by Fictionable:

BBC Radio Cumbria interview with Helen Millican about Burntcoat:

Sarah is presenting a BBC Radio 4 documentary on Radioheadís album OK Computer next month as part of their 1990ís series:

Humanists UK is delighted to welcome three new patrons into the fold, including novelist Sarah Hall:

Burntcoat is one of the finalists in the National Book Critics Circle Awards 2021:

The Irish Times books of the year: Anne Enright's favourite titles of 2021:

The Guardian best fiction of 2021:

New York Times Book Review of Burntcoat:

BBC Open Book. Elizabeth Day talks to Sarah Hall about her latest novel, Burntcoat:

The Faber Interview: Sarah Hall -

A moment that changed me:

Join awarding-winning writer, Sarah Hall, for her online short story course this autumn:

Burntcoat has been rounded up into the Guardian best books this Autumn:

Sarah has a piece in this new anthology about music:

Sarah has been made a Professor of Practice at the University of Cumbria:

Faber is to publish Sarah Hall's latest novel, Burntcoat, in autumn this year:

This Christmas, read a story aloud - you'll be surprised by the joy it brings:

Sarah was interviewed on BBC R4 Front Row about her 2020 BBC National Short Story Prize shortlisting:

Sudden Traveller has been shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize 2020:

Sudden Traveller Paperback publication date is 15th October 2020

Sudden Traveller has been longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize:

Sudden Traveller has been shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize:

Sarah is presenting a two part Radio 4 documentary called The Everywoman:

Faber are running one of Sarah's stories in their Lunchtime Shorts series:

Review of Sudden Traveller in the TLS:

Sarah's short story, The Grotesques, has been honored as a finalist for the 2020 ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Award for Fiction. It was published in Zoetrope.

Sarah has written a short story for English Heritage called 'The Hand Under The Stone'. It features in their anthology, These Our Monsters:

Sarah has written a short piece about fiction for Arvon:

Sarah was on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour:

Guardian review written by Sarah about Mary Gaitskillís This Is Pleasure

Women at war: why do we still struggle with the idea of female soldiers?

Sarah has a new short story called 'The Woman The Book Read' published in the New Statesman:

Sarah and curator Melanie Vandenbrouck consider the moon's illuminating impact on literature. BBC Radio 4 Open Book:

Sarah's story Goodnight Nobody (from Madame Zero) is one of the winners of the 2019 O. Henry Prize for short fiction:

Sarah has contributed to an exhibition at Wordsworth House and Garden called 'This Land Is Our Land':

Sarah spoke on The Art of Intimacy on BBC R4, Thursday 31st January:

Article in The Guardian on trauma and the unexpected tonic of extreme reading:

Lycian Writers Sarah will be teaching fiction writing courses in the South of Turkey, spring and autumn 2019. Find out more

Madame Zero won the 2018 Edge Hill Readers' Choice Award. The Edge Hill Short Story Prize was won by the wonderful Tessa Hadley.

Who Pays? A new story commissioned by The New York Times Magazine:

Sudden Traveller has been shortlisted for the BBC short story award 2018.

Sarah on Cumbria in The Guardian:

Previous News stories

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