Story about doubt wins international writing prize

  • Date

    Wed 21 Sep 22

Man writing in a notebook

Uncertainty and climate change were the themes of the two prize-winning entries at this year’s Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize.

The stories, by London-based writer Trahearne Falvey and Martin Horn from Montreal, Canada, were selected from hundreds of entries from around the world.

The Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize is awarded in partnership by Short Fiction journal and the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS). It offers creative writers the chance to win a £750 main prize and a £500 Wild Writing Prize.

This year’s main award went to Trahearne Falvey for Aoife, a story about doubt and uncertainty.

The Wild Writing Prize, co-judged by Dr James Canton from LiFTS, was won by Martin Horn for Le Château, a story about coming to terms with the climate change crisis.

Speaking about the main prize, judges Seren Adams and Caleb Azumah Nelson said: “We were really impressed by the standard of the stories. Each one is clean and polished, clearly pored over by its author and written with feeling. Each one shows a desire for innovation and a natural affinity for using voice and rhythm and language in interesting ways. This is a shortlist of talented writers.”

Reflecting on the wild writing entries, Dr Canton, who co-judged with writer Daisy Johnson, added: “There was a really strong sense in these shortlisted entries of a collective of writers powerfully engaging with landscapes and the human presence on those spaces. They were often writing with a vital feeling for the climate emergency we all now face alongside the layering of our relationship with the earth and the natural world we share this world with.”

Second and third place prizes for the main award went to Jon Stapley for The Grit, The Mussel, and Jessica Lee Richardson for Good Job Pressing, respectively. The second place award for the Wild Writing Prize was jointly awarded to Gan Ainm for A Snake Island and Jennifer Chante for The Dreaming Dog.

James Young, Editor of Short Fiction, said: “It was a huge thrill to read such exciting, innovative work, which demonstrated all the possibilities of the short story form. The standard of this year’s entries, and the winning stories, was as high as it has ever been.

“We consider it a privilege to be able to offer opportunities like these to writers, and are once again indebted to the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex for its invaluable support in making the prize possible.”

Prize-winning entries are published by Short Fiction, accompanied by bespoke illustrations.