Saturday, July 04, 2009

The MPH-Alliance Bank National Short Story Prize 2009 Shortlist

THE INAUGURAL MPH-Alliance Bank National Short Story Prize aims to identify and recognise the best Malaysian short stories. The judges have read all the longlisted entries over a period of a month and have deliberated on the flaws and merits of each story to arrive at a shortlist (in no particular order) of six that best encapsulate the Malaysian experience.

One of these six stories will be chosen as the Grand Prize Winner. Who will it be? Check out whether your story has been shortlisted for the prize in the July-September 2009 issue of MPH Quill magazine, which will only be available from July 15, 2009, onwards.

Heartiest congratulations to all winners!

MPH Group of Companies would like to thank the following corporate and non-corporate sponsors for their assistance in support of the creative arts: Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd (main sponsor); Malay Mail (official media partner); Reader’s Digest; Seventeen Magazine; Discovery Channel Magazine; The British Council; the National Library of Malaysia; and the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder whether I have won or not!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 2:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

have the winners been notified?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eric,
Have the shortlisted winners been informed through emails?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 12:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear all,
We will be contacting the shortlisted winners by next week (via email / phone) before Quill hits MPH Bookstores and the newsstands.

Thank you.

Project Administrator
MPH Alliance Bank National Short Stories Prize 09

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Lord the time has come... ;(

Thursday, July 02, 2009 4:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, do you enjoy your work as an editor?

Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:10:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

This is indeed a tough question! Well, let me put it this way: Most of the time, no.

Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you hate what you do?

Thursday, July 02, 2009 9:26:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Mahsun said...

Good luck to those who took part! I cannot wait to read the winning submissions. Good short stories are always a delight to read.

Thursday, July 02, 2009 2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Anon: I don't hate what I do. Just most aspects of it. It is usually about the ego, never the writing, for one thing. But let's not go into that. It's like opening Pandora's box and unleashing evil and blight upon an unsuspecting world. Editing unpublishable manuscripts can really kill you!

An editor’s job is not just to edit a piece of work and turn it into a piece of reading material. It is the editor’s responsibility to tell a writer that his work sucks big time (this is the toughest part of the job; most writers hate to hear that they write badly) and that he needs to work on them further, rewriting, revising, etc. It is the editor’s job to tell a good writer that he needs to push himself further.

Saturday, July 04, 2009 1:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, are there enough good entries for a book?

Sunday, July 05, 2009 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

I believe there are enough good stories for a collection or two.

Sunday, July 05, 2009 1:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

When will MPH publish the collections? Am intrigued that there will be more than one collection. :)

PS: Am glad that MPH is providing some kind of avenue for local authors to publish, especially in a country where there are such limited options to do so. Good work, guys.

Sunday, July 05, 2009 10:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eric,
Just curious. Any Malaysian winners from overseas?

Monday, July 06, 2009 1:40:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

We hope to publish them once they are edited and deemed fit and ready for publication. As you are well aware, editing fiction is quite a task and will probably take some time.

Monday, July 06, 2009 2:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Yeah, I've edited children's fiction before. The task was ... arduous. Do not envy your task ;)

But happy editing nevertheless!!

Monday, July 06, 2009 6:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a quick update:
All the shortlisted winners for both categories have been contacted via email and phone.


Project Administrator
MPH-Alliance Bank National Short Story Prize 09

Monday, July 06, 2009 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eric,
Congratulations to the winners! How many were longlisted? Would you please kindly publish on your blog the names of those who were longlisted? It would be good for them to know how close or how far they are to the winning crown so that they can polish up next time. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 4:58:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

The idea of the inaugural MPH-Alliance Bank National Short Story Prize is to unearth new voices in Malaysian fiction. And in many ways, this objective was achieved in more ways than expected.

As always in writing competitions of such nature, there were the really badly written stories, and it was a real struggle to read many of them, truth be told. Most of the stories were flawed in the following ways: bad beginnings; pointless stories; too much description and not much story; vague/predictable/clichéd/derivative/Hollywoodish/cookie-cutter endings; characters that were not well drawn; weak dialogue; lazy sentences; a dearth of layers; lacking an eye for the significant details of daily life; lack of originality; wonky grammar and spelling; misused punctuation, etc. All these can mar the enjoyment of a story.

Many had interesting stories to tell, but lack the narrative skill to weave all the elements of fiction (setting, plotting, characterisation, etc.) together for a seamless, complete whole.

And, of course, there were the really well-written stories. Of course, there were more bad than good ones. And when they were good, they were especially gratifying to read. Most of them were flawed (but then all fiction is flawed), but with more editing, reconceptualising and polishing, they are bound to shine. Some of the stronger stories stood out from the rest. One of the objectives of fiction, regardless of whether they are novels or short stories, is to make readers empathise with people or characters whom they might not otherwise empathise, to really think about what goes on in another person’s head. A gifted storyteller finds grace in grief and magic in the mundane, and immersing the reader in these thoroughly. According to Irish writer Colum McCann, ‘Part of the beauty of fiction is that we come alive in a body that we don’t own.’ The job of the writer is to look at where he is now and make some sort of emotional sense of it, not only for that moment but for years to come.

It is true that most potential writers just want to get published; it doesn’t matter whether their stories are good enough to be published. But it does matter in more ways than one.

On the whole, we have much to be happy than sad about the state of writing in Malaysia.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 4:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Eric,
I agree with anonymous on the longlisted names. I don't mean the whole 1000 entries. It's good to know where one stands in order to improve oneself.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to add, you're right in saying that the job of the writer is look at where he is now and make some sort of emotional sense of it,not only for the moment but for the years to come. So some of us do wonder if we were longlisted so that we can make ammendments.

Talking about misused punctuations, this is one example. Yet he is one of the winners of the highly commended stories in last year's CBA short story competition.


Thursday, July 09, 2009 5:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, here's another commended story from U.K with wrong punctuations.

Is it the way they weave their stories and the plot that counts?


Thursday, July 09, 2009 5:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to enjoy stories with lots of misplaced punctuation!

Thursday, July 09, 2009 7:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Mahsun said...

Is it the way they weave their stories and the plot that counts?
Why would you even think otherwise?

To those who think MPH should release the longlist so you can know where you stand, let me tell you where you stand:

You're Just Not Good Enough.

Now move on and practice your writing more so you can improve. Knowing "where you stand" on a longlist doesn't make your writing improve. Reading and writing and more reading and writing makes your writing improve.

If you want to know what was wrong with the story you submitted, then workshop it. Knowing your place on a longlist (if you're even ON the longlist) is hardly good feedback to improve your writing!

Friday, July 10, 2009 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Ted Mahsun!

Friday, July 10, 2009 2:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,
Are you one of the winners? Hurray for you, if you are! Anyway, SM only asked if the names could be published on Eric's blog, not Quill.

Congratulations to the winners and let's move on. We are proud of Shih-Li Kow being shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor's prize. Congratulations to her and double congratulation to her if she took part and won this competition.

Friday, July 10, 2009 5:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said too Ted...I can imagine an applicant-writer going, "Ahhh, I was on the longlist, so I don't have to improve my writing as much. If I were not on the longlist at all ,then I'd have to improve it just that bit more."

Friday, July 10, 2009 7:26:00 AM  
Blogger Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

Oy. I don't get this. Everyone is agreeing with everyone else. And Ted, don't be mean, even if you mean well. Asking whether a full disclosure of a longlist is fair enough, although I don't know what good it will do. MPH staff selected the longlist, for the judges to read and select the shortlist.

Instead of hooraying everyone else, why isn't anyone going, "What the heck happened? I gave it my best shot, I know my piece(s) is excellent, so why is my email silent?" -- Like what I'm doing right now. You're just implying that you didn't submit your best, you're in for the fun.

My works may not have struck the judges' fancy, and maybe they didn't even get a chance to read my work, but by God I didn't submit rubbish. I went through over 10 drafts, and there is not a single grammatical error to be found. Even the format is according to US-standard manuscript. Just Not Good Enough? I refuse to believe that. Because if I do, I'm selling myself short. Writing is an artform. Some people may love a piece, some may not. Simple as that.

That feels much better.

To the winners, my heartfelt (tinged with envy) congratulations. To Eric Forbes and everyone at MPH, I hope there will be more competitions such as this. And please do publish the winning entries so that I can read them and maybe rant some more.

And I really do hope that when I submit a query letter, I won't get deleted before being read, for this outburst :).

Friday, July 10, 2009 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Mahsun said...

If I had won then someone forgot to call and email me... :D

Obviously this means I also have to go read and write more.

Friday, July 10, 2009 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That’s the nature of writing competitions. No matter how much you have done with your story, there are bound to be judges who hate it for one reason or another. Not all judges like the same stories, but it is not difficult to decide the winning story. One judge may hate your story for one reason or another, while another may love it for all the right or wrong reasons. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that for that to happen there’s a still a basic standard that your story must attain. If you think your story is good but did not win, work on it further. Don’t lose hope; life’s like that!

Friday, July 10, 2009 5:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who said:"I can imagine an applicant-writer going, "Ahhh, I was on the longlist, so I don't have to improve my writing as much. If I were not on the longlist at all ,then I'd have to improve it just that bit more."

I don't think I would feel that way if I were among the longlisted ones or not even among the longlisted. If I were among the longlisted, I would strive not that as much, but a THOUSAND times harder. If I were not even one of the longlisted, my piece is not even worth reading. Perhaps I am not made to be a writer and have look for other venues. That's my personal opinion. No problem with me if Eric doesn't want to publish the longlisted ones on his blog. It is his perogative.

Anyways, well done and congratulations to the winners.

Friday, July 10, 2009 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All short-story competitions do not release the names of those who made it to the longlist, only the winner and the other finalists.

Saturday, July 11, 2009 5:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe if the editors email you to inform you that they are including your story in the proposed anthology, then you know you are on the longlist!

Sunday, July 12, 2009 6:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to MPH and Alliance Bank for promoting English-language writing in Malaysia. I look forward to the next one!

Sunday, July 12, 2009 6:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous of Sunday, July 12, 2009 6:17:00 AM

I don't think longlisted entrants were informed via email. The 12 shortlisted are already the winners: 6 for the adult fiction and 6 for the teens but only one from each category will get the grand prize.

Let's close this topic. There is the travel story anthology by MPH. Anyone interested?


Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:40:00 AM  
Blogger Vince said...

actually.. I'm quite in favor of a long list being shown.

then again people would ask if they were long listed: 'So how come mine didn't make the short list?'

guess thats the way the ball rolls...

there's always next year :)

Monday, July 13, 2009 2:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose MPH will be contacting the longlist to work with them on their stories for the compilation right?

Then, we will just have to wait for the compilation to be published, to see who were longlisted.

Monday, July 13, 2009 3:00:00 AM  
Blogger Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

Eric, now that the list is out, can we submit our stories elsewhere and not compromise our chances of being published in your antholog(ies), in the event MPH wishes to publish commended entries as well?

Would love to have that cleared up before I send out my children elsewhere.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those who made it into the longlist but did not get shortlisted will be contacted by the organisers in due course. Please be patient.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Fadz,
Perhaps you should consider sending your story to The New Yorker!

All the best =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

Hey anon. I was actually thinking of this site:

But if New Yorker accepts stories from Asian countries, heck, why not. No harm in sending the kiddies out, hoping that they can find wings and fly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 2:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, The New Yorker accepts submissions from Asia.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 4:24:00 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Fadz - Thanks for your comments. I'd actually agonized over my short story (i.e. read, re-read, revised, edited, should I send it? Yes? NO?) before finally sending it in.

It was a very personal one and yup, it may not have struck a chord with MPH-Alliance Bank but other avenues may like it.

Your question on whether our stories are now open for submission elsewhere is really helpful. Is the answer yes?

I totally disagree with Anon's comment "Ahhh, I was on the longlist, so I don't have to improve my writing as much. If I were not on the longlist at all ,then I'd have to improve it just that bit more."

As a college writing instructor for more than 5 years, I can tell you that even the best of writers have the desire to improve themselves just a bit more.

And yes, they also need a bit of encouragement even if they are already top of the class.

Be really nice to see that longlist...

Friday, July 17, 2009 5:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, People seem to be waiting for something to happen. Mph should take a stand with regards to publishing the longlist.

A suggestion - don't publish the longlist but do decide if there will be a book. If there is, do contact the writers whose stories will be in the book for reworking. This selection for the book is an Mph call as editors of the book, not the judges' and needn't be the same as the longlist.

In this way, those who are not contacted can release their stories elsewhere.

Just a thought.

Friday, July 17, 2009 6:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure MPH will decide on the stories (to be reworked) to include in the collection later on. Why are people so concerned about the longlist? They should be spending their time writing instead of harping on the longlist. If they can’t wait for the call from MPH, they can send their stories elsewhere. MPH certainly doesn’t have to bow to any pressure from these patheticos who have nothing to do but wait for a longlist to be published to feel validated! It’s, after all, MPH’s prerogative to decide whether they want to put out a collection.

Saturday, July 18, 2009 2:38:00 AM  

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