Bowing to common fury, the prize will be split equally amongst the shortlist, all of whom have written strong and worthy stories. Our honest problem was that we didn't feel we had found a stand-out for the big prize, and we were trying to set the highest standard, but we did it clumsily and, as many have argued, there's no reason not to award the money, since it's there. Maybe you lot can read them when they're up and choose your own favourite.
There were only two or three comments suggesting a split. Personally I think it sends the wrong message. They wanted to stir things up. To agitate us all to greatness (or their idea of greatness... slippery slope). But now... what? I'm confused.
I think those involved mistook healthy online debate with whining. Easy mistake to make I guess. For those wondering, this is the former. Honest.
Still, these two competing decisions (no stand-out story so no prize awarded; no stand-out story so ten prizes awarded) don't do any favours for the prestige of the competition this year and going forward.
Congrats to the short-listed writers, though. Any placing, in any fashion, has to be taken as a positive. The "You're good, but go further" message may even spur them on to "greatness". Maybe they're already there, it just flew over Zadie's head?