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Winners announced for 2021 Short Fiction International Short Story Prize

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In a very strong and truly international competition which attracted 780 entries from over 40 countries, the 2021 Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize is publishing the winning stories and revealing their authors today.

Winner:  ‘She’s a Tank, a Battalion, a Banyan’ by Avrina Prabala-Joslin

2nd Prize: ‘A bird is fluttering somewhere in me’ by Pnina Shinebourne

3rd Prize: ‘Maldonado’ by Nicholas Petty

For the LiFTS Wild Writing Prize – a special themed prize to reward the best fiction about nature, climate change or the environment – an overall winner and three runners-up are named:

LiFTS Wild Writing Prize

Winner: ‘Cephalopod’ by Claire Carroll


‘Cantlos’ by Millie Margretta

‘Just Another Sado Sea Shanty’ by Nicholas Petty

‘One Road Out’ by Anna Robinson

The prize was read and judged blind from beginning to end, with every entry read at least twice. After the difficult process of long- and shortlisting, the top seven in the Main Prize were sent to headline Judge Irenosen Okojie, who praised the quality of an incredibly varied shortlist and chose Avrina Prabala-Joslin’s entry as the overall winner.

Avrina Prabala-Joslin, a south-Indian writer living in Berlin, said: ‘She’s a Tank, a Battalion, a Banyan is the most intimate story I’ve written so far, a painfully beautiful reckoning guided by a kind omniscient narrator. Of all the stories I’ve written, this is the one I want read – widely and wildly – and winning the Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize 2021 will give the story that. Isn’t that something!’

Thanks to the sponsorship of the Department of Literature, Film, Theatre Studies, Creative Writing and Journalism at the University of Essex (LiFTS), Avrina Prabala-Joslin receives £500, while £250 goes to 2nd-Prize winner Pnina Shinebourne for her story ‘A bird is fluttering somewhere in me’. The 3rd Prize of £100 is for Nicholas Petty’s ‘Maldonado’.

LiFTS is also awarding a further £500 for ‘Cephalopod’ by Claire Carroll, and a series of Wild Writing Masterclasses for all four writers recognised in the Wild Writing Prize category.

LiFTS offers an MA in Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment, and the masterclasses are a fantastic opportunity for prize for these writers to access the department’s expertise not just in short story craft but also across psychogeography, creative non-fiction and writing about nature, climate change and the environment.

‘She’s a Tank, a Battalion, a Banyan’, ‘A bird is fluttering somewhere in me’, ‘Maldonado’ and ‘Cephalopod’ are being bespoke-illustrated by four professional artists, and are published at Short Fiction http://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk. Short Fiction journal has been publishing the best in literary short stories from around the world in print and online since 2006. It is currently one of the UK’s most highly regarded online literary journals.

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