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Top 10 contemporary short stories

Ahead of 2017’s National short story prize, Jon McGregor reluctantly chooses ‘swoony’ work from recent years showing some of the ways to write them well

This summer, I read the entries for this year’s BBC National short story prize, and discussed with my fellow judges the vexed question of how the “best” might be identified.

This was both a pleasure and a serious challenge: the form of the story is so capacious and diverse that at times we were comparing apples and pears, or at least looking at an unfamiliar fruit and arguing over whether to call it an apple or a pear. (Rest assured, though: the challenge is not impossible. An apple is always better than a pear.) You can assess our choices after the shortlist is announced this Friday evening on BBC Radio 4. All five finalists will then be broadcast on successive afternoons on BBC Radio 4 (and made available on iPlayer) starting on 18 September.

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