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Joanna Campbell

Award Winning Author

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Instructions for the Working Day

An unsettling story of betrayal and freedom set in past and present East Germany. Instructions for the Working Day is about a man who inherits a village and a woman who confronts a city.

'Joanna Campbell's Instructions for the Working Day, a clever reflection on ramifications of the Stasi era in East Germany, is an elegant, chilling reminder of what happens when people set out to deliberately disintegrate another person's spirit.' (Martin Chilton, The Independent)

Shortlisted for The Rubery Book award 2024

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Published by Fairlight Books 

Upshots was a real treat to read. There's a confident use of voice and perspective which pulls the reader through the story with tremendous energy. The disjunction between the way the  narrator sees the world and the way the reader understands the world to be is well- handled and subtle; and is then put to good use in a lovely sleight of hand towards the end. Technically accomplished, and a very worthy winner.

Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13, winner of the 2017 Costa Novel Award

Such voice. ‘They say me mam’s a slack knitter.’ How’s that for an insult? The humour in this story is offset by the darkness, by the suspicion of child abuse all overlaid with ‘God’s approval’. The child’s point of view is the perfect one for this type of story, well crafted and well told. 

Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon, winner of the 2017 Irish Novel of the Year Award

Here is a story that proceeds line by line on the sheer intensity of its linguistic invention. Very quickly, inside a couple of pages, its sentences succeed in building a world. The language is an uncannily successful blend of a rhythmic dialect and a tightly controlled prose that combine to bring this world alive on the page. The dialogue sings, and the action is expertly depicted – the plot, meanwhile, keeps us thoroughly unsure of our footing, and takes us in unexpected directions. There is a delicious blend of light and shade in this story, and I don’t think there’s a single wrong note in it.

Kevin Barry, author of Beatlebone, winner of the 2015 Goldsmiths Prize

Further praise for short and flash fiction

Precise, economical writing. Like poetry. Perfect small gems, every one of them a reminder of what language can do. 


2012 Flannery O'Connor Award

Engagingly told story of a family bound by secrets and how an action done with the best of intentions narrowly misses the worst of outcomes. A heart-stopping moment of revelation in a story that is nicely paced and coloured with humour and sharp insights. The writing manages to convey depth without overstatement and the rich use of language and sense of place makes for a deeply evocative and rewarding read.

Elise Dillsworth, literary agent

These short stories, several of which end with a smart twist, are superbly written and populated with strong characters and fine, small details. She creates real people – she is especially good with US teenagers, as in the title story where the protagonist, who has learning difficulties, is pregnant and abandoned – and demonstrates genuine compassion for ordinary people, those whose great skill when confronted with a hostile world is to pretend that all is well. 

2016 Rubery Book Award

Judges' praise for Upshots, winner of the 2015 London Short Story Prize

Short stories

When Planets Slip Their Tracks

This is Joanna Campbell's first collection of short stories, many of which have won prizes or been shortlisted in international competitions.

They are about lonely people for whom the world has shifted a little on its axis. A wry sense of humour often illuminates the dark edges of these tales.

Each story catches the moment of implosion - a lame girl’s friends disappear on a bleak mountain, a schoolboy nurses a doll during a lesson, a babysitter is caught in her own web of lies, a mother watches her pram sink in the river, and a child discovers the truth about birth and death in the space of a day.

Shortlisted for The International Rubery Book Award and longlisted for The Edge Hill University Prize

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Published by Ink Tears

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About Joanna Campbell

Joanna Campbell is an award-winning author. Her novel, Instructions for the Working Day, was published by Fairlight Books on August 31st 2022 and shortlisted for The Independent's Book of the Month.

Her short story collection, When Planets Slip Their Tracks was shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award and longlisted for the Edge Hill University Prize.

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