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Introduction to ‘The Short Story’ by Alex Linklater, founder of the National Short Story Competition and Fiction Editor for Prospect Magazine.

Ian Hart (Finding Neverland; Harry Potter) read Testicular Cancer vs The Behemoth by Adam Marek

Lucy Brown (Primeval, Sharpe) read 21st Century Juliet by Rose Tremain

Ray Panthaki (East Enders, 28 Days Later) read Paki by Gautam Malkani

Richard Schiff (The West Wing) read Vanilla Bright by Michel Faber


The Organizers

Director: Christian Banfield
Editer: Alex Linklater
Producer: Kirsty Peart
Artistic Director: Cedering Fox

Café De Paris

The Café De Paris, in London’s Piccadilly is one of the most famous and durable venues in the world. With a glittering history, spanning nine decades, the Café has consistently played host to a wide variety of powerful and absorbing performers and guest members of the aristocracy, eminent political figures, dazzling pop stars, captains of industry, superstars from the silver screen and even royalty.

New owner , Brian Stein, took over Café de Paris in 2002, passionately committed to completing the restoration of this prestigious venue to the glory and glamour of its heyday. A fresh and dynamic team swiftly began to attract high profile events such as the Agent Provocateur 10th Birthday, Marie Claire’s 17th, the Merchant of Venice’s premiere party and the spectacular Mastercard One Priceless Night.

In 2004 Café de Paris proudly celebrated her 80th birthday. With a few discrete nips and tucks and a shiny new wardrobe she is still the most gorgeous girl in town.

The Writers

Adam Marek was born in 1974 and lives in Bedfordshire, where he works as an editor for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. His stories have appeared in the Bridport prize anthologies (2003 and 2005), online at pulp.net, and in the Parenthesis collection published by Comma Press, which specialises in original short fiction. Marek’s signature motif is the use he makes of animals or imaginary creatures, such as robot wasps, a dead mermaid and a giant talking centipede. He is working on a novel entitled The Indigo Medusa that features a new species of squid, and has just completed a collection of short stories, to be called The Midnight Zoo. “Sometimes the novel can start to feel like a partner I’ve spent too long with,” he says. “There can be awkward silences. To overcome this, I’ve been having adulterous flings with short stories. These breaks are liberating. Short stories do all kinds of things that novels are too prudish for.”

Born in London in 1976, Gautam Malkani grew up in Hounslow amid what he describes as “a conscious and growing resistance to racial integration.” He took up the issue of voluntary segregation at university, writing a dissertation entitled, “Chocolate-flavoured Coconut Milk”—“coconut” being a term for Indians and Pakistanis deemed to have sold out to white society (ie brown on the outside, white on the inside). His argument then was that ethnic identities were being used as tools to assert masculinity. “The resulting sub-cultures drew heavily on the values and language of gangsta rap,” Malkani points out, “a culture as alien to first-generation immigrants as it was to mainstream British society.” He now edits the Financial Times’s “Creative Business” pages and has turned his academic research into material for a novel, Londonstani, from which this story is drawn, and which he is now adapting for film.

Rose Tremain is the author of three collections of short stories and nine novels, including Restoration (shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1989) and Music and Silence (winner of the Whitbread novel of the year award in 1999). Her last novel, The Colour, which was set during the 1860s gold rush in New Zealand, reinforced her position as Britain’s leading historical novelist. That term, however, may be misleading. Described by Ian McEwan as “a true stylist,” Tremain explores the possibilities for both intimacy and imaginative range in English fiction. With her short stories, Tremain says, she tries to “seize the contemporary through a diverse assembly of voices, and to explore the often remarkable separation of public history from private truth.” Her latest collection is entitled The Darkness of Wallis Simpson. Her new novel, The Road Home, will be published by Chatto & Windus in June.

For Michel Faber, the purpose of the short story form is to get access to “as many different universes as possible.” Born in Holland, raised in Australia and living in Scotland, his hallmark virtuosity also applies to his novels. He is the author of a taut psychological thriller, Under the Skin (2000), and a vast Victorian pastiche, The Crimson Petal and the White (2002). But it is in his novellas and short stories that Faber’s ability to shift tone, style and landscape is manifested most vividly. He is equally at home in myth and satire, realism and fantasy. Yet each story is true to its universe, told as if that were the only authentic place to be. His first collection, Some Rain Must Fall, was published in 1998, and his latest collection, The Fahrenheit Twins and Other Stories, was published in September 2005 by Canongate Books.