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New chapter for writer chosen as winner of our Stories contest

Sue Ruben with runners-up Iqbal Hussain and Christina Care

(Picture: Handout)

A short story about disability and ableism has been named the winner of the Standard’s Stories competition in association with Westfield.

The contest aimed to discover fresh voices and promote the talent of new and unknown storytellers in the capital.

Launched in June, it received more than 600 submissions in the form of written words — poetry, prose or scripted dialogue of under 1,000 words — or as two-minute videos.

The winner chosen with the help of a panel of publishing experts was Sue Ruben’s Dr Dandruff and Me.

The judges said it is “a charming, deft and beautifully written story about disability, and finding out what aspects of life do or don’t define you. It was an absolute pleasure to read — it’s funny, moving, and thought-provoking in equal measure.”

Christina Care, whose story Salami Week judges felt was “sharply observed, delicately written, and skilfully weaves together a girl’s self-discovery with the larger shape of her life”, was named one of two runners-up.

The other was Iqbal Hussain, whose writing the judges called “full of character”. They said his story Stammering was “a moving and tender exploration of a traumatic time in a young boy’s life as he struggles to overcome his stutter”.

The judging panel included Jessica Loveland, head of new writing for BBC Drama; James Massiah, a writer and artist; Deblina Chakrabarty, vice president EMEA TV Distribution, MGM Worldwide Television; and Andrew Hunter Murray, an author, scriptwriter and podcast host.

Judges were impressed by the high quality of all submitted work — in particular the spoken-word entries.

Subjects covered included sexuality, immigration, disability, coming of age, escaping abuse, parenthood and infertility.

Lotte Jeffs, who chaired the judging panel, said: “We expected an array of interesting pieces that explored the breadth of human experience, but what we didn’t expect was to be quite so moved by these powerful tales of becoming, of belonging, of surviving.”

The winner and runners-up from a longlist of 24 were announced last night during a celebration at the Groucho Club by Nick Clark, the Standard’s deputy culture editor. He presented a selection of prizes including the opportunity to be mentored by some of the most respected names in publishing.

Anoushka Lucas, who stars in the Bush Theatre’s new commission Elephant, opening on October 24, performed for the crowd while bespoke cocktails designed by event partner Fords Gin were served. Jeffs said it was “a joyful night and reminder of the transformative power of storytelling”.

Ruben said: “‘I never thought I’d win - whatever situation you find yourself, make the best of it, I did and look at where I am - I’m a winner of ES stories competition!’

To read the winning extracts, visit stories.standard.co.uk

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