Canadian writer D.W. Wilson has become the youngest ever winner of the BBC National Short Story Award.

Wilson, 26, received the £15,000 (approximately $24,000 Cdn) prize at a London gala on Monday evening for his tale The Dead Roads.

The story, about two former schoolmates vying for the affections of a free-spirited woman during a road trip across Alberta, is "perfectly constructed," the judging panel said.

"The judges were unanimous in their choice of David Wilson's story as the winner: a beautifully crafted and involving tale set in the Canadian Rockies. His offbeat, slightly wayward quartet of characters stays with you long after your first reading. The plot is tightly controlled and builds the tension perfectly. A rattling good read," jury chair Sue MacGregor said in a statement.

The other finalists were:

  • Rag Love by M.J. Hyland
  • The Heart of Denis Noble by Alison MacLeod
  • Wires by Jon McGregor
  • The Human Circadian Pacemaker by K.J. Orr

McGregor was runner up and received £3,000 (about $4,800 Cdn). The three remaining finalists each received £500 (about $800 Cdn).

Hailing from Kootenay Valley, B.C., Wilson moved to the U.K. as the inaugural recipient of the Man Booker Prize Scholarship for creative writing at the University of East Anglia. He is currently a PhD candidate for creative and critical writing at the school.

Wilson released his debut short story collection Once You Break A Knuckle this month. He is also a National Magazine Award-nominee whose stories have been published in literary journals such as Malahat Review, Grain and Southword.

Top U.K. actors offered readings of all five of the shortlisted stories during a BBC Radio broadcast in mid-September. The five shortlisted tales have also been collected in an anthology by publisher Comma Press.

Now in its sixth year, the BBC National Short Story Award celebrates contemporary British short fiction and is open to British writers or fiction authors living in the U.K.