Brighton-born author Saba Sams wins the BBC National Short Story Award

Saba Sams triumphed with Blue 4eva after the judges praised her “absolute truthfulness” and said they were particularly struck by the “truthfulness” of her writing.

Blue 4eva, taken from her debut collection Send Nudes, tells the story of a 12-year-old struggling through the power games of a blended family on a summer vacation and is an exploration of sexual identity, agency, power and class.

Inspired by Sams’ memories of her own childhood holidays, it was designed when she was a 19-year-old creative writing student at the University of Manchester.

Saba Sams has won £15,000Saba Sams. Credit: Sophie Davison/PA

The 26-year-old said: “It’s very special to have Blue 4eva – a story I’ve been working on in one way or another since I was 19 – given that kind of appreciation.

“I first wrote Blue 4eva in rainy Manchester when I was a student, although it was very different back then.

“The story was very short, more of a vignette, but I enjoyed it. When I wrote Send Nudes a few years later, I went back to the story and started working on it again.

“I’m always thinking about what it’s like to be a young woman: about body and power, about friendships and family, about how we’re constantly trying to break free.

“Blue 4eva also explores sexuality, specifically queerness, in a subtle way that I found interesting to write.”

Saba Sams has won £15,000Saba Sams, BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University Winner 2022. Credit: Tom Pilston – LR

This year’s jury was chaired by broadcaster Elizabeth Day who said: “When I first read Blue 4eva I was drawn in by its engaging atmosphere, masterful narration of complex family dynamics and sense of tension building.

“Saba Sams is adept at flipping our assumptions on the wrong foot, creating a cast of unique, multidimensional characters with a rich inner life, and looking at it all through the lens of a 12-year-old girl.

“To do that in less than 8,000 words is an incredible achievement. I loved this story from the moment I read it and to this day I can’t stop thinking about it.

“I am delighted that we have found such a worthy winner.”

Saba Sams has won £15,000Elizabeth Day, Saba Sams, Katie Thistleton and Elena Barham at the BBC Short Story Awards. Credit Tom Pilston-LR

Sams defeated composer, performer and writer Kerry Andrew; Professor of Writing at Lancaster University and award-winning novelist Jenn Ashworth; thriller writer Anna Bailey and short story writer and poet Vanessa Onwuemezi to accept the award.

She received £15,000 and the four shortlisted authors received £600 each. Brighton-born author Saba Sams wins the BBC National Short Story Award

Fry Electronics Team

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