Bristol Prize

2018 Judging Panel

Kate Johnson (Chair)

photo: Will Beckley

Kate is a literary agent at the New York-based Mackenzie Wolf literary agency, representing a range of fiction and nonfiction writers across the US and the UK, including short story writers Sam Allingham, Tania Hershman, Bryan Hurt, Bonnie Nadzam, Hasanthika Sirisena and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. She also adores the stories of Aleksandar Hemon, Lorrie Moore, Eley Williams, Jamie Quatro, Etgar Keret, Mavis Gallant, Shirley Jackson, Joy Williams, and…could really go on and on and on!

“I want a story that feels both urgent and timeless, that can take me travelling into new landscapes and languages, or simply into other people’s minds. I love – and, perhaps, require -a narrator with a distinct voice or point of view, and am delighted whenever fiction reveals something strange in the everyday, or conversely something relatable in someone extraordinary.”

Lucy Cowie

Lucy is a freelance editor with over a decade’s experience working with a broad range of fiction and non-fiction writers. She started her publishing career at the literary agency LAW and Penguin Random House, before heading to the West Country where she continues to edit for publishers as well as independent writers. Elizabeth Strout’s Anything is Possible, Amy Bloom’s Rowing to Eden and Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women are among Lucy’s favourite short story collections of recent years.

“I’m looking for distinctive voices that move, surprise or amuse me. I’d love to find original, thoughtfully crafted stories that draw me in and stay in my mind long after I read the final words.”



Roshi Fernando

Roshi is the winner of the 2009 Impress Prize and the author of the acclaimed short story collection, Homesick (Bloomsbury). She has a PhD in Creative Writing and lectures on short stories. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize in the same year.

“The short story, written well, garners truth from within the writer that becomes universal, and teaches us how to understand ourselves.  That moment – when you meet the eyes of the person you think you will be with forever, or when your skin prickles a small fire when a painting mirrors you from across a large gallery floor, or when a secret is told: your secret – but by someone who lives on the other side of the world or forty years ago or two hundred years in the future – that is the moment I am looking for.”

Polly Ho-Yen

Polly is the author of three novels for children, which have been nominated for numerous awards including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award. She worked in publishing for several years and has also been a teacher. As well as a writer, she is currently Reader Development Librarian for Bristol Libraries.

“I’m on the hunt for a story that lingers. When I start reading a short story, I ask to be absorbed – by voice, character and setting – and delighted by the imagining and observation taken in its creation. When I finish reading, I hope that the story will leave me moved in some small way, that I will continue to think of it long after ‘the end’”