As part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations this year, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) held a short story competition. It was open to all our members, past and present, together with our research partners. As well as a fun way to conclude the year, we wanted to encourage people to try out a different form of writing about international development.
Writing Fiction about the World of Development
Why fiction? Because letting imagination off the leash offers enjoyable and challenging new ways of representing the world of development. In privileging the irrelevant, the individual, the playful and the particular, fiction can deliver emotional truths that rarely find a place in research reports. For the writer, there is the pleasure of transgression, of being able to create characters with complex motivations and who may be wilfully subversive or politically incorrect – just as in real life. Through narrating very particular lives and stories – fiction illuminates larger social, economic and political themes. And it can linger on the apparently inconsequential but telling detail that brings a place or an event vividly to life, providing the reader with a unique sense of ‘being there.’
Our competition produced some memorable and diverse entries, from vignettes of the ‘aid’ world to global themes of displacement and connectedness. A big thank you to fellow judges Melissa Leach, IDS Director, and Lucy Lamble, the Guardian international development editor.