Competition

2018 Short Fiction Prize

W I N N E R

‘Gooseen’ – Nuala O’Connor

R U N N E R  U P

‘Blue Octopus’ – Wes Lee

T H I R D

‘Emporium’ – Graham Mort

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DFJ U D G E

Ríona Judge McCormack was the 2016 Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year, and the recipient of the 2017 Sunday Business Post Short Story Prize and the inaugural Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize. Her short fiction has been published in The Irish Times, The Dublin Review, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual and other international anthologies, and broadcast nationwide on Ireland’s RTE Radio One.

J U D G E ‘ S   C O M M E N T S

“It was an honour (and a delight) to judge this year’s longlist, which showcased a thrilling range of styles and narrative approaches.

The winning entry, ‘Gooseen’, stood out for its freshness, its stunning use of language, and its warm, beating humanity. Joycean Dublin as a setting can be a risky endeavour, the path having been so well-travelled already, but this story rises easily above such comparisons to bring us something new and satisfyingly urgent. There is a finely-balanced weighting here between the raunchy, delicious beginnings of a love affair and the more poignant aspects of Nora’s inner life. Giving voice to someone known only through the letters and writings of another is an audacious undertaking, but one ‘Gooseen’ achieves with both a dancing lyricism and a deftly-executed sureness of touch.

The second-place story, ‘Blue Octopus’, tackles what could also be a familiar setting, yet likewise manages to feel utterly novel and surprising. Each character is drawn with restraint but also a deeply sympathetic warmth; they feel real and complex as they navigate this strange moment together. There is a neatness and economy to the writing, but also a generosity, and an admirable ear for the unfolding rhythm of a story and how to earn its many quiet revelations.

In third place is ‘Emporium’, a story in which—on the surface—very little happens. A man enters a shop, and reflects on his home town, but buried within these bare outlines is a master class in atmosphere and impeccable descriptive control. ‘Emporium’ works on the reader in all sorts of intangible ways, and I came away quite unable to shake the image of that shop and its inhabitants, and all the unsaid, unquiet things that surrounded them.”

    ~a