Every year, the BBC National Short Story Award contains some real gems of short fiction -- and you can download the audio versions to listen to at leisure.
Previous awards have been given to both unknown authors and well-established ones. This year, all five authors on the shortlist are women. Their stories have protagonists ranging from a teenage girl, a retired plastic surgeon, a failed lecturer, three women who work in a hellish garment factory in Bangladesh, and the "regular customers" in a hospital Accident and Emergency department. That one is written by Hilary Mantel, Booker-winning author of Wolf Hall, who last year had a story shortlisted that imagined Margaret Thatcher being assassinated. This year, her contribution is more lighthearted, and draws on her experience as a hospital social worker.
The stories are read by actors for Radio 4, and they are available for download for a month for free. Go on, give your ears a treat. They deserve it!