I have come runner up in a human rights short story competition with my piece Short Story Ideas About Violence, After Doris Lessing
The comp was judged by Anna Funder and Tony Birch.
I am linking to the story on the Right Now website, as you should take the time to check out all the other wonderful pieces that were in the shortlist.
The anthology Poetic Justice, where the story will be included, is launching during the Emerging Writers Festival on May 29.
About the piece – it originally started out as a writing exercise that I did to reflect a sequence late in Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, a novel that you can read in full here, where she writes a number of ideas for short stories and novels down that all reflect her burgeoning breakdown. I sent it into this competition because, quite obviously, it is about the myriad ways violence is inflicted on people, and the long term effects that result. I am so glad it made an impact.
It’s only rereading it now that I see maybe, when writing it, I was also influenced by Roberto Bolano’s 2666, and the incredibly disturbing events that are, for want of a better word, reported, in the sequence set in Santa Teresa. It took a good deal of time to understand what Bolano was trying to do in this lengthy sequence. On the face of it it could appear lurid, with an endless string of gruesome deaths described one after the other. It’s only when you’re midway through this section that the deaths begin to compact into each other, and you understand how we make ourselves desensitised to suffering, because in the moment, there is nothing else to be done.
Often when talking about human rights issues I come across people saying things like “At the end of the day” and “I’m just going to play Devil’s Advocate here”. What I want them to think about, and what I hope I know, is when it comes to the complexities of human existence, things cannot be summarised in a tight bow. To borrow a phrase, if things can be explained, then they can be explained away.