English Student wins 2024 Orwell Society Dystopian Fiction Prize

Lois Bolton

A student of Creative and Critical Writing in the University of Liverpool’s English Department has been awarded the annual Orwell Society prize in recognition of excellent dystopian fiction by a young writer.

When Fillings Burn by Loïs Bolton, a “powerful” love story between a crematorium worker and a man mourning the sister whose body he had cremated, was awarded the top prize at an event in London on Saturday May 11 attended by George Orwell’s son.

Loïs was presented with the prize of £750 and a bust of George Orwell. Her story will also be
published in the prestigious Orwell Society Journal.

George Orwell (1903-1950), born Eric Arthur Blair, was one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential literary journalists and authors. In a relatively short career, cut short by his death from tuberculosis at the age of 46, Orwell produced some of the most important works of fiction by any English writer in history, including dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.

Commenting on her success in the competition, Loïs said: “As a new writer, I can’t stress how affirming and inspiring the process has been, and how far constructive feedback can go in building
your confidence.

“Thank you endlessly to The Orwell Society, the panel of judges, Richard Blair, and everybody involved with the Prize. I had a great time at the AGM and prize giving in London.

“Thank you also to all of my tutors and peers at University of Liverpool for their feedback and loyal support with my writing. The bust of George Orwell is sitting pride of place on the shelf at present, and I can’t wait to see the story appear in the journal.”

Dr Daniel O’Connor, Colm Tóibín Lecturer in Creative Writing said: “We’re thrilled that Loïs has won the Orwell Society Dystopian Fiction Prize! When Fillings Burn uses a brilliant concept to explore both how we live with death and the ethical compromises of our relationships. It’s no surprise that such an inventive use of dystopian fiction has won the Orwell Society prize! Loïs is an incredibly exciting author and we’re very proud to have her on the MA Creative & Critical Writing.”

The story received approval from the final judging panel, which included Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, among noted authors and Orwell experts. The first round of judging was carried out by Orwell Society members.

One judge praised Bolton’s writing for displaying the “expertise of Atwood and LeGuin”, with
another describing the story as “sad and rather beautiful; dystopian in a quiet and understated way and all the more powerful for it”.

Entrants were asked to submit dystopian narratives of up to 3,000 words presenting an original
fictional work inspired by or written in the spirit of George Orwell.

The judging panel, which assessed all entries anonymously, agreed that When Fillings Burn should be awarded the prize for its strength of writing, its subject matter, and for satisfying a major requirement of the award, a passion for the dystopian writing of George Orwell.

The Orwell Society is the official society dedicated to promoting the life and works of George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm and other important books and essays. The Society is a registered charity in the UK and aims to keep the study of Orwell alive through its educational activities. The Society’s patron is Richard Blair, Orwell’s son. You can find out more here.