If there’s one word that best sums up the 2013/14 academic and its extraordinary cohort, it is optimism. Now, this is a word that doesn’t often feature in creative writing or in literary circles more broadly. At the moment fiction publishing in the UK, as much as elsewhere, is undergoing great structural change – digitisation, the consolidation of larger publishing houses – yet it’s also a time of great possibility and opportunity, thanks to the flourishing of smaller independent publishers and creative writing degrees like ours.
At UEA this year there has been a boom in literary readings, cabarets and events, many of them organised by our students. We also can’t help noticing that there has been a marked increase in enthusiasm from all the industry professionals – agents and publishers alike – who have visited UEA this year, as well as a sense among the students that what they are doing really matters, that contemporary fiction, of whatever genre or literary register (as long as it’s excellently conceived and executed), has a place in the culture, a future.
This optimism is no whistling in the dark, but part of a particularly complex, yet progressive understanding of the need for fiction, the writers of fiction, and the readers of fiction who expect to be challenged, informed and entertained in continually new and different ways, by new voices. Fiction has its roots in innovation. Even the word ‘novel’ attests to this. It can never be static, and would never aspire to be, which is why a course such as UEA’s Prose Fiction MA is so intriguing. New writers appear on the course each year, increasingly from around the world. They bring with them vastly different experiences, resources, styles, techniques, intents and ambitions. The work collected here reflects the cosmopolitanism of our course, and the diverse subjects and locales our students approach in their work, from the dusty streets of Bahrain to gilded metropolitan soirées where the super-rich and an increasing army of zero-hours workers intersect. It is our pleasure to present a selection of the students’ work in this annual anthology, which serves as a sampler to the diversity and achievement of their imaginations.
We write this as our course winds down for the year – a bittersweet moment for us all – yet we are increasingly aware that our students leave our course having had the benefit of an intensive year of experimentation, consolidation, reading, critiquing and dialogue. Their optimism often comes from the newfound certainty that they are not alone; that the networks and personal friendships established on our course will endure. For many of our students, no matter whether they scatter home to New Mexico or the Philippines, their peers from the UEA MA will continue to be their readers of first resort.
This year’s anthology contains work by Ayombi Adebayo, Joe Banfield, Julia Breens, Mark Chaiken, Dave Chua, Krishan Coupland, Alice Flaconer, Rory Gleeson, Imogen Hermes Gowar, Kate Gwynne, Liz Hambrick, Nick Kipley, Jacqueline Landey, Elspeth Latimer, Ferdia Lennon, Isa Lorenzo, John Patrick Mchugh, Lily Meyer, Ng Yi-Sheng, Nicolas Padamsee, Dani Redd, Emma Rhind-Tutt, Jess Roussos, Anealla Safdar, Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, Nick Shadowen, Sophia Veltfort, Craig Warner, Stephanie Ye, Christopher Young, Sarah Young and a foreword by Anjali Joseph.
By your copy here.