The Mechanics’ Institute Review (MIR) is Birkbeck’s annual anthology of short fiction by emerging and established writers from across the UK.
With 13 issues published to date, MIR aims to champion the short story as an art form, promoting diversity and opportunity for all while publishing new work of the highest possible standard. It has received critical acclaim from the Guardian, Independent, TLS and Time Out, and endorsements from Ali Smith, Damian Barr, Geoff Dyer, Tessa Hadley and Courttia Newland among many others. We have been privileged to feature more than 40 guest authors over the years, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Evie Wyld via Zoe Gilbert, Jackie Kay, Rose Tremain and David Foster Wallace, to name but a prize-winning few.
Meanwhile a significant number of the approximately 200 new authors we have published have found agents and landed contracts as a direct result of their inclusion in the anthology.
Available in print and e-book format, MIR was originally produced by students taking the Publishing option as part of their Creative Writing MA; since Issue 11, however, it has been produced by a team of volunteers drawn from both current students and alumni. From Issue 14 onwards, thanks to funding from Arts Council England, MIR has gone national, widening its reach beyond Birkbeck Creative Writing Programme students to find and develop talent from throughout the country.
A constant and distinguishing feature of each collection is the rigour of its selection and editing process, which ensures the high literary and production standards of every issue and that involvement with MIR is acknowledged to be a valuable experience for editors and authors alike.
These pieces are as energetic, diverse, as full of fascinating characters and intriguing stories as the city they were crafted in.
A promise of what’s to come for the short story.
There’s breathtaking energy in these stories, and skilful pulling of the rug from beneath your feet.
Good storytelling, gripping characters and a strong sense of place: these writers show us how it’s done.
Authentic detail, pin-sharp descriptions – buy it.
A window into the future of fiction. Here, you can glimpse writers that your friends will be recommending to you in six or seven years’ time. Here, you can discover their energetic but controlled, reckless but accomplished beginnings. This is the most rewarding kind of reading you can do.