Sarah Hall, photo credit: Richard Thwaites  


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

Sarah Hall

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 country’s 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 Hall’s 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, Hall’s 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 – Shortlisted authors readings, Southbank Centre, London
17 October – 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 I’ve come across in a decade.' Wells Tower. Click here for more...

Sex & Death Sex & Death
Publication date: September 2016

A collection of short stories edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs featuring Ali Smith, Ben Marcus and Kevin Barry

How we come in, and how we go out, sex and death: these are the governing drives, our two greatest themes. In this provocative, haunting, and sexy collection of short stories, a group of acclaimed writers from across the globe probes the nature of, and connection between, two of the most powerful, exhilarating, and terrifying forces that define and shape the human experience: sex and death. Reviews of Sex & Death.

More: | |

The Wolf Border The Wolf Border
Paperback publication date: March 2016

Cumbria Life Culture Award – Writer of the Year 2015
Mumsnet Book of the Month selection – March 2016

Set against a background of political tumult – Scottish independence, land reform and power struggles – The Wolf Border confronts sex, love, conflict; the desire to find answers to the question of our existence. It is a novel steeped in wilderness and wildness, both animal and human.

'[T]he odd sense lingers of Hall as a well-kept secret. If you're currently revelling in your membership of the initiate, however, be warned: her new novel looks set to blow the lid off.' The Guardian. Click here for more...

Sarah Hall received a BA joint honours in English and Art History from Aberystwyth University, Wales, and an MLitt in Creative Writing from St Andrews, Scotland.

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, 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 was 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, 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 film & television rights are held by Lionsgate UK.

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 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. Her second collection, Madame Zero, was published in 2017. It was short listed 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.

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.

Her short stories have been widely published and recorded, including by the following - 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.

She is currently working on a new novel, contracted for publication by Faber & Faber, UK, and Custom House (Harper Collins, USA).

Her work is published throughout the world and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Sarah Hall is an honorary fellow of Aberystwyth University and the University of Cumbria, and a fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Italy. She is also Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is a recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters EM Forster Award. 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 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.

She has tutored for the Faber Academy, The Guardian Master-classes, the Arvon Foundation, has taught creative writing in a variety of establishments in the UK and abroad, and she is a co-founder of Lycian Writers in Turkey. She frequently publishes works of journalism, commentates for BBC Radio 4 and has presented television documentaries for outlets such as Sky Arts.

Sarah was born in 1974 and raised in Cumbria's Lake District. She has lived in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the USA, and she currently lives in Norwich, Norfolk.


Latest News:

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 Gaitskill’s 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:

Sarah's story Later, His Ghost has made it into the Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story:

Sarah was Chair of judges for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize 2018, congratulations to Kevin Jared Hosein:

Sarah has a new piece in Toast magazine: Long Slow Road to the Sea

Madame Zero is one of five books on the 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize Shortlist:

The Cambridge Festival of Creative Writing 7th July. Evening discussion with Sarah Hall.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist 2018 has just been announced:

Madame Zero is also on the Gordon Burn Prize Longlist:

Sarah appeared on BBC Radio 4 Front Row, discussing Norwich, 7th May.

Sarah talked about Madame Zero on Radio 3 The Verb 2nd March.

A piece written by Sarah for Granta about Cumbrian Fell Ponies:

Travel piece for Toast Magazine One Night in Istanbul:

Mention of Madame Zero by David Mitchell:

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