Little Crackers, the startling and quirky collection of short stories about mental illness by Beda Higgins, has been longlisted for the £5,000 Edge Hill Short Story Prize, alongside works by writers such as Hilary Mantel, AL Kennedy, Stella Duffy and Toby Litt.
Beda's collection of darkly humorous tales about mental health try to combat the ignorance, prejudice and fear that often surround mental illness. For Beda, this is particularly important at a time when mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks are on the rise. Although mental illness touches so many of us, stigmatization still regularly occurs – both in the media and in everyday life.
She said, "Little Crackers is inspired by my nursing experiences. I came up with a world of strange characters – the paranoid, the isolated, the depressed – to illuminate the everyday grief, poverty, neglect and fear that we all know are common, but so often ignored.
"Hopefully, the stories challenge our perception of normal, and question how we care for the most vulnerable members of our society."
She added, "I’m delighted and astounded to have my collection recognized by the Edge Hill Prize judges – and to be in the company of such fantastic writers."
The Edge Hill Short Story Prize is the only UK award that recognizes excellence in a published collection of short stories. The shortlist of five for this year’s prize will be revealed in May and the winners announced at an award ceremony on 2 July at the Free Word Centre, London. The judges are the 2014 Readers’ Choice winner Rachel Trezise, The Guardian’s Chris Power, and novelist, editor and Edge Hill lecturer Dr Rodge Glass, who has described Little Crackers as a 'standout' entry.