Tian Yi was awarded the 2023 4thWrite prize for their short story, The Good Son. The story follows a young man as he looks back on his childhood in a small town, which was disrupted by mysterious events and a friendship that remained elusive.
The Guardian and publisher 4th Estate have been hosting an annual competition for unpublished writers of color residing in the UK or Ireland, which is now in its seventh year. Yi, the winner, received a prize of £1,000, a one-day publishing workshop at 4th Estate, and her story will be published on the Guardian’s website.
According to Bolu Babalola, author of Love in Colour and judge for the award, The Good Son is “incredibly unique.” Kishani Widyaratna, judge and publishing director at 4th Estate, also praised the book as “a clever and insightful story that challenges traditional narratives of the immigrant experience.”
Liberty Martin’s story “Bleach” received a special commendation for its portrayal of a Black woman in the 1960s entering a white beauty pageant in Kansas. Justine Jordan, a judge and fiction editor for The Guardian, praised Martin’s writing, characters, and storytelling abilities.
The recipient of the top prize and honorable mention were announced during an event in London on Monday. Among the finalists were Rosie Chen’s Micromanageress, Benjamin Toma James’ The Man Who Cried at the Sky, Esther Okorocha’s Back of House, and Melissa Gitari’s My Last Real Housewife.
Felicity Bryan Associates’ judge and literary agent, Angelique Tran Van Sang, described The Good Son as a clever manipulation of familiar storylines that results in something refreshingly original. The book is convincingly immersive and confidently draws readers into its world, showcasing the author’s mastery of their craft.
In addition to the panel of judges, Helena Lee, features director at Harper’s Bazaar and creator of East Side Voices, remarked that Yi’s story is “expertly crafted” and effectively portrays the experience of being a British east Asian and the complexities that arise from being a minority within the diaspora.
Lee stated that the themes of upward mobility, togetherness, and the concept of being a desirable foreigner are brought to life through this story’s well-crafted characters. The narrative skillfully delves into the obstacles created by societal expectations and the resulting silence that stems from being raised by immigrant parents, with a touch of the supernatural.
Cecile Pin, the writer of Wandering Souls, served as a member of the panel of judges. The recipient of last year’s award was Olivia Douglass for their piece, Ink.