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Citizen: The New Story

Word Factory Inspires Writers to Think Differently

To that end, we have promoted a series of workshops, masterclasses, flash fiction competition and a festival that explored belonging, citizenship and literature at a time of enormous change.

In the midst of the conversations arising from Brexit, we invited writers to explore identity, nationality and belonging. We wanted to enrich the quality of political and cultural communication which had become limited in both language and emotion.

The resulting flood of exchanges and new work – in prose, poetry, flash fiction, film and audio – demonstrated a thirst for further exchanges between literature and contemporary news events.

With partners including Arts Council England, the University of Liverpool, the Orwell Foundation, New Writing North, the International Literature Showcase, Lacuna Magazine and English PEN, we brought together a cross-section of some of the finest writers in the UK to respond to the moment and re-imagine the future. Leading thinkers, journalists and activists – including members of the Grenfell Tower community – also participated.

Some of that new work appeared in national newspapers and online magazines. We want to share some of that with you here. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the festival – and who wrote short stories, essays and flash fictions in response.


Nikesh Shukla: author and editor, The Good Immigrant said…

The Citizen: The New Story Festival was a brilliant literary state of the nation event showcasing the concerns of writers. With platforms such as Citizen, we can affect change, together.”

“You Don’t Know What You’ve Got it Till it’s Gone”, or “The Mandibles: A Coda”

by Lionel Shriver

Are You Awake in the Dark?

by Stef Pixner

Never the right time: what are the ethics of giving voice to the pain of others

by Cathy Galvin

Mixed Blessings, A Primer

by Melissa Fu

Independence Day

by Abdul Wakil Sulamal

Great Railway Fatwas of the World

by Alexei Sayle


by Maureen Freely

Active Citizenship

by Ben Okri

What the Eyes Don’t See

by Linda Quinn

A Tadge to Your Left

by Janet H Swinney