Winner of the 2013 Saboteur Award for Best Fiction Anthology
From village storytellers to nineteenth-century serialisations, from pub anecdotes to dramatic monologues, storytelling is an enduring art form. This collection of short stories reconnects storytelling with its oral and performative roots. There are stories here for performance, stories which play with sound, stories which dramatise conflicting voices, and stories which are musical in style.
Because of the way these stories speak from the page, it doesn’t matter whether or not they are actually read out loud. Rather, these are stories which might equally be ‘performed’ on the reader’s mental stage, heard in the reader’s mind’s-ear.
There is a burgeoning culture in the U.K. and beyond of oral story-telling and prose writers performing their work live, a culture which has developed out of the popularity of poetry in performance. There are numerous collections and anthologies which aim to capture the energy of performance poetry on the page. There is, though, no comparable literature for stories in performance – making this collection unique.
In order to demonstrate the huge diversity of possible performance styles in prose, the collection mingles flash fiction with more sustained stories, genre fiction with realism, experimental pieces with oral storytelling. Contributors are similarly varied in their styles, backgrounds, experience and genres, and include Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Ian McEwan, Blake Morrison, Louis De Bernières, Adele Parks, Kate Pullinger, Adam Roberts, Michelene Wandor, Vanessa Gebbie, Judith Allnatt, Jo Baker, David Belbin, Panos Karnezis, Jane Holland, Gemma Seltzer, Ailsa Cox and Will Buckingham.
‘A great story is nothing if not a score for the human voice, a spell to seduce the ear, brain and heart. The stories in Overheard cast a powerful spell. They take us into worlds that are as intimate as they are universal; as timeless as they are timely. Whether spoken, shouted, sung or murmured, here are stories that compel us to sit up and listen.’ —Alison MacLeod