Momaya Press

2004 Momaya Press Prize Ceremony
Hosted by the London Review Bookshop
Winning stories performed by the American Repertory Theatre of London

Creative writing and theatre met at the London Review Bookshop, host of the 2004 Momaya Press Prize Ceremony. The Momaya Press Prize Ceremony featured dramatic performances of the winning entries by actors from the American Repertory Theatre of London. The event was lively and engaging, with creative interpretation of the short stories by the actors and distribution of awards to the authors. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed a glass of wine and the chance to meet authors, actors, agents, and publishers.

In attendance were the winning and published writers featured in the Momaya Annual Review, and the 2004 Competition judges from The Times Magazine, Vintage (and imprint of Random House), and Andrew Nurnberg Associates literary agency. In addition, a number of media and literary/acting agents came to hear from fresh talent. Copies of the Momaya Annual Review 2004, featuring the winning authors, were available for purchase.

The 2004 Momaya Short Story Competition

The inaugural Momaya Short Story Competition met with more success than we could have imagined. Congratulations to our winners, who were chosen from a pool of 142 submissions. Authors from twelve countries around the world submitted stories, with the majority of 65% coming from the United Kingdom, followed by 20% from the United States, 4% from Australia and Ireland, and the remainder from Bahrain, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, and Taiwan. Women accounted for 60% of the entries, and many writers chose to submit multiple stories.

The three judges were Anna Von Pezold, a literary agent at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, Jason Arthur, Editorial Director at Vintage (an imprint of Random House), and Lucy Alexander, a writer at The Times Magazine. The judges spoke highly of the overall quality of the submissions, and entered into lively debate over certain stories. They encourage those who submitted to keep writing, and expressed their interest in raising the profile of the short story in the literary world.


The theme of the 2004 Momaya Annual Review was food - a theme accessible to all. In addition to the stories chosen by the judges, we have published some stories that we thought were particularly strong on the theme of food. We found it interesting that a good number of the stories (including the 1st place winner “Gethesiminal” by Alexandra Fox and 2nd place winner “Jeda by Design” by Sally Haxton) were quite dark in their focus. Is there a link between food and death? Between denial and indulgence? We included some humorous stories like “These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruin”, by Deborah Thomas to lighten the mood.

Momaya Press Director Monisha Saldanha speaks on the efforts of Momaya Press to promote the short story as an art form, and thanks the actors, writers, judges, and the London Review Bookshop, for their involvement in the 2004 Momaya Short Story Competition.

The Future of Momaya Press

Building on the success of our first year, we look forward to generating more submissions in the coming year, with the possibility of expanding the size of the Momaya Annual Review to publish more authors. We are also working to find alternative outlets for short story authors, through performance art, film, and magazine publications.

We encourage everyone who submitted this year to continue writing, and look forward to reading your submission for future competitions. We welcome your ideas for how we can attain our mission of widening the audience for the short story.

Feedback from Actors, Writers, and Judges involved with the Momaya Press in 2004:

Lucy Alexander, The Times Magazine, Judge
When Monisha asked me to be a judge for a short story competition she was setting up, I said yes because I love reading short stories. Short stories are like tiny windows into other worlds and other lives, rather than a full exposition of those lives which you would find in a novel. The little snapshot, I find, often stays with you longer and more clearly, due to its condensed, intensified nature and its brevity. The judging process was great fun and the quality of entries was high - we all agreed immediately on the best story, and had fun fighting over the second and third places. I hope the competition grows in reputation and strength and stimulates the neglected short story genre.

Judge Lucy Alexander, a writer at the Times Magazine, presents the 2nd Place Winner: “Jeda by Design,” by Sally Haxthow.

Noah Birksted-Breen, Actor and Director
Performed “Consumed by Desire", by Germaine Stafford
It was fun to make a performance from a short story, to make a private reading into a public event. There was a nice cross-over between literature and performance, particularly with a chance to meet the authors after the reading. When we had discussed each story, in rehearsing them, we had all thought the story I was going to read was written by a man, so it was very interesting to discover it had been written by a woman! What came through was a distinctive, humorous and urgent voice.

Germaine Stafford’s “Consumed by Desire”, winner of an Honourable Mention, is performed by actor and director Noah Birksted-Breen.

Deborah Thomas, Author, “This will Never be a Noodle Bar” and “These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruin”
It was a privilege to take part in the ceremony and for my work be a part of a collection of stories written by such talented people. As writers, our challenge is to make the short story relevant and accessible to the wider public, the Momaya Annual Review is a stride in this direction.

Deborah Thomas accepts a double award, for "This Will Never be a Noodle Bar” and "These Fragments I have Shored Against my Ruin"

Actress Fran Wilde gives a lively rendition of “These Fragments I have Shored Against my Ruin” by Deborah Thomas.

Alexandra Fox, Winner of Momaya Short Story Competition 2004, “Gethesiminal”
Thank you so much for all your hard work in organizing the prize-giving last night, and thanks to both of you for the creation of the whole competition.

I had a lovely evening. The performances were magic. I'm keeping in touch with Anne Wittman. She's asked me if she can do Gethseminal again at Hampstead, and I'm delighted. I'm going to let her have some other monologue-type pieces in case she's interested in putting them into repertoire. Funnily enough a woman from the BBC read some of my stuff a few months ago and said some of the stories would work as dramatic monologue, but I can't imagine a more inspiring performance than the one last night.

The competition was very well run. Feedback about the entry process was clear, and I was kept well informed throughout. Personally, it's my first year of writing, so this was one of the earliest competitions I entered, but everything about the process made me feel welcome.

The prize ceremony was extraordinary. I must admit that when I first heard that there were going to be dramatic performances, I couldn't see how anybody could dramatise what is in effect a very verbally intricate suicide monologue. When I actually saw Anne Wittman perform the story I was astonished. She brought a whole other dimension to the work that I hadn't appreciated, because I had written from within the character, but she acted it as herself within the same words and gave them something more.

The prize giving itself was warm, friendly and well organised. I enjoyed having the opportunity to speak to members of the audience, other writers, judges and actors afterwards. It made the whole experience very special indeed.

I extend deep thanks to Monisha and Maya for organising the competition as a whole, giving short-story writers in the UK in particular a market and a readership for their works. The standard of the other competitors' stories was exceptionally good. The Momaya Annual Review is beautifully produced and I will treasure it.

1st place winner Alexandra Fox accepts her award and shares the inspiration for the story and the writing process with the audience.

Jason Arthur, Editorial Director at Viking (an imprint of Random House), introduces the 1st place winner, “Gethesiminal” by Alexandra Fox

Meredith Gee, 3rd Place Momaya Short Story Competition 2004, “There were Tigers”
It is a frustrating business, trying to perfect the short story in the UK at the moment. Most outlets are not interested in the true literary short... they seem to want bland, nice, sweet stuff that will be forgotten in five minutes...fodder for magazines at hairdressing salons, station waiting rooms.

Momaya Press comes in, for this writer, at least, like a blast of air through an open window. Listening to the stories chosen for the award ceremony was an emotional experience. Not only because many of the stories were emotional journeys, but also because they were bravely written, and bravely chosen in a world which panders to the shallower stuff.

You have my wholehearted support for what you are doing. The first Momaya Review is great. It is a pleasure to read, and will be given as a Christmas present to family and friends in the hope of spreading a good thing a little wider.

I will be submitting and entering your competitions again and again... and even if I don't make it to the last three next time, good luck to everyone who enters, and to you, the people with vision, who are running and organising this.

The event at the London Review Bookshop will never be forgotten. It was that bit different, that bit more exciting, daring, it took risks, and it hit the spot. I guess that's what I want to do with my writing, and you encapsulated it in a couple of hours on a cold evening in London!

Angela Rauscher reads the 3rd place winner of the 2004 Momaya Short Story Competition: “There Were Tigers” by Meredith Gee.

3rd place winner Meredith Gee smiles as she hears her story “There Were Tigers” read aloud by actress Angela Rauscher.

Literary Agent Anna Von Pezold, who worked at Andrew Nurnberg Associates in 2004 and now works at PFD, shares her thoughts on her love of short stories and her experience as a judge in the 2004 Momaya Short Story Competition. She also introduces the 3rd place winner: “There Were Tigers” by Meredith Gee.

Sally Haxthow, 2nd Place Momaya Short Story Competition 2004, “Jeda by Design”
I am extremely pleased to be named the second prize winner of the Momaya Short Story Competition 2004. As an emerging writer from Canada it can be difficult to find channels to the right audience, especially in the field short literary fiction. Momaya Press, through their short story competition, offered me a unique opportunity to not only get my writing in front of a first rate panel of judges, but to be published internationally alongside my peers.

Veronika Tugendraich gives a rousing performance of the 2nd place winner of the Momaya Short Story Competition, “Jeda by Design,” by Sally Haxthow.

Veronika Tugendraich

Veronika Tugendraich

Anthony Psalia, Author, “Juan Pablo’s Favorite Dish”
I'd like to say a big thank you for hosting such a pleasant evening at the London Review Bookshop and it was a pleasure to meet with you.

Of course, having my first published short story in the review was validation and recognition of one's efforts and it's certainly inspired me to keep writing - and more importantly to keep sending my work out, because although the writing is the thing - there's little sense it keeping that thing to yourself - unless you're writing a secret diary!

I enjoyed meeting a few of the other writers, but didn't get to identify most of them till after the event when it was time to go. I think events like this are reminders that you are not writing in a void, that there is some sort of amorphous 'movement' of writers just like yourself - with jobs and families and commitments - and though one might not want to belong to any organised writers group, membership of a bigger community is a welcome thought.

I hope you will keep me posted of any future events and (subject to my productivity) I will certainly by sending you my work again.

Anthony Psalia, cited for excellent treatment of the 2004 Theme of Food, accepts praise for his short story, “Juan Pablo’s Favorite Dish”.

Germaine Stafford, Author, “Consumed by Desire”
First of all, I'd like to thank you for such a lovely reception at The London Review Bookshop, and say how very much I, and my friends, enjoyed the event. (An event, I might add, that I'd enjoy attending as a 'spectator' as well as a writer.) I wish you the best of luck for coming years and trust that participation will increase as more people learn about Momaya Press and your competition.

I applaud your choice of judges, and have no hesitation in confessing that this played a large part in my deciding to participate in the 2004 competition. I also think that your presentation evening was a perfect opportunity for writers, (and in this case actors), to meet up and feel part of a community, something that happens all too rarely. Were there more events of its type, I am sure the future of the short story would benefit considerably.

Thank you again for everything, and I look forward to participating in next year's competition!

Germaine Stafford accepts commendation for her story, “Consumed by Desire.”

Andrew Stilwell, Manager of the London Review Bookshop,
Host of the Momaya Press Prize Ceremony 2004
It was a wonderful evening, a marvellously enthusiastic audience and really something a bit different for The London Review Bookshop: we were all very glad to be associated with the award and the promotion of the short story (we have also hosted the Asham Short Story Prize (for short stories by women) twice now, so we are doing our bit for the genre!

Colin Upton, Author, “Garlic Bread’s Fine”
Just a quick mail to let you know how much myself and my guests enjoyed the 2004 prize ceremony. The whole occasion was hugely enjoyable. I was extremely impressed by both the quality of the selected entries that were read out and the actors who interpreted them. It was also very encouraging to discuss writing with the other competitors; I found the atmosphere extremely supportive and encouraging. Discussions with the judges were particularly helpful and went a long way to convincing me that the hours sat alone in a room in front of a screen are not wasted! Of course, I was thrilled to see my own words in print for the first time, as well as being pleased that I'd been selected to be published alongside such impressive work. Thanks again for all the support and encouragement that I received from yourself and the judges.

Anne Wittman, Actress, Performed “Gethseminal”
Working on Alexandra Fox's short story "Gethsemina" was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in many years due to the rich density and frequently dark humor of her language and imagery combined with the raw emotional journey of the story.

Short stories can lend themselves brilliantly to theatrical adaptation. I have created several theatre pieces from non-dramatic writing before, including fantasy writer Elizabeth Hand's short story "The Have-Nots". The advantage of the short story as a theatre piece as opposed to a novel is its concentration - this can help to create an intensely theatrical experience. "Gethseminal" was ideally suited to dramatic format in that in addition to being a short story in it's own right, it was also a monologue as it had been written in the first person. Other short stories can raise interesting challenges to the performer with choices to be made about handling of multiple characters or narration, non-linear treatment of time and creating a dramatic shape for the piece through focus and emphasis.

With the Momaya Press Awards held at the London Review Bookshop, the performers also needed to be mindful of the nature of the event. While I was no stranger to non-traditional performance spaces, it was important to consider where we were. I voiced my concerns to actress and director Kate Gielgud who mercifully stepped in during the last couple of panicked days before the performance to offer guidance, moral support and an intelligent eye. "Every space is a theatre space." she said with a twinkle - and with that, it was settled.

In presenting a short story for perfomance, as with any other piece of literature - dramatic or not, it is all in the long as you delve deeply and fearlessly into what is written.

Anne Wittman gives an ovation-winning performance of the 1st Place winner of the 2004 Momaya Short Story Competition: “Gethesiminal” by Alexandra Fox.

Anne Wittman concludes the performances for the evening.

Mary Wilson, Author, “The Ring”
If you're reading this, then like me, you love words, stories and books; in short, you love language. When i read it makes me laugh, cry, sigh and ponder. To have the power and, more importantly, the skill, to etch your feelings on another persons' soul, as the best writers do, is a wonder. I've written a few articles and short stories, but of course I was never satisfied with them. When I heard about the Momaya Short Story Competition, it didn't really occur to me to enter it. I thought that my paltry efforts couldn't possibly stand a chance of winning anything, least of all a competition judged by a strong literary panel. It took a nudge from a friend who had more confidence in me than I did for me to submit what I felt was the best of a bad bunch of scribbles. When I heard my story had been placed in the top ten, and was to be (unbelievably) published, I had bubbles of joy inside me for days. I still feel proud today; because if my words made even one other person feel what I felt, then I achieved something great. Thank you, Momaya Press

Debra Broughton, whose short story “Edible Poetry” was published for its excellent treatment of the 2004 Theme of Food, accepts her award.

The Momaya Short Story Competition is now accepting submissions at:

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