Maidenhead teenager wins national writing contest with 'haunting' story

A Maidenhead teenager has been named a winner in a national writing competition inspired by the work of late author George Orwell.

Max Baker, 17, was one of four senior winners of the Orwell Youth Prize, a writing contest for young people aged 12-18.

This year’s theme was 'A New Direction: Starting Small’, with the writers having to use Orwell’s writing and ‘his values of fairness and integrity’ as a starting point.

Real name Eric Blair, Orwell was an influential English novelist and journalist who was outspoken in his support for socialism, with his work remaining popular in political culture.

Max’s piece – titled ‘The Quiet Revolution’ – is described as an ‘immersive and haunting’ fictional dystopian story that is likened to the popular TV series Black Mirror.

The story – set in the year 2097 –predicts a future world ‘disturbingly close to our own’, provoking important questions about social media, capatalism and immigration.

Max was rewarded with a £50 cash prize, the complete works of Orwell for himself and his school, and a certificate.

Judges said: “The Quiet Revolution’ reads like an episode of Black Mirror – here’s a dystopian world that’s carefully imagined and reveals itself effortlessly.

“It’s similar enough to our world to feel real, and possible and different enough to disturb and leave the reader with a sense of foreboding.”

Tabby Hayward, programme coordinator for the Orwell Youth Prize, added: “The prize is much more than just a writing award.

“We reflect back on the collective concerns of all our entrants through our research, and by supporting our winners to engage with politicians, writers and people in public life, we aim to make young people’s voices part of the national conversation.”

To read Max’s story and for more information on the Orwell Youth Prize, visit bit.ly/3z55f63

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