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Winners Announced for Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Wordspark


Short Fiction is delighted to announce the results of the 2022 Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize, supported by the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex (LiFTS). The prize once again attracted hundreds of entries from a range of countries, and for the third year running, featured a special LiFTS Wild Writing Prize to reward the best fiction about nature, climate change or the environment. The results are as follows:  

Main Prize

Winner:                       ‘Aoife’ by Trahearne Falvey

2nd Prize:                     ‘The Grit, The Mussel’ by Jon Stapley

3rd Prize:                    ‘Good Job Pressing’ by Jessica Lee Richardson

LiFTS Wild Writing Prize

Winner:                       ‘Le Château’ by Martin Horn

Joint 2nd Prize:          ‘A Snake Island’ by Gan Ainm

‘The Dreaming Dog’ by Jennifer Chante

The winning stories from the Main Prize were chosen by Seren Adams, of United Agents, and Caleb Azumah Nelson, winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2021 for Open Water, both of whom praised the shortlisted stories and overall standard of the competition:

“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” – Seren Adams and Caleb Azumah Nelson

Of his winning story ‘Aoife’, London-based writer Trahearne Falvey said: ‘I started writing ‘Aoife’ during a time in which I was uncertain about so many things – including my ability to write at all – and the story turned out to be about uncertainty, thinking and living with it. As a writer, doubt is always there, but winning the Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize is a brilliant, reassuring reminder to just keep going.’ 

The winning LiFTS Wild Writing Prize stories were chosen from a shortlist by the Booker Prize shortlisted and Edge Hill Prize winning Daisy Johnson, author of Fen, Everything Under and Sisters, alongside James Canton, author of The Oak Papers and Director of Wild Writing at LiFTS. Again, both judges were highly impressed with the quality of the shortlisted stories, and how they engaged with their subject matter:

“Each of these stories was brave in its attempt at something different and exciting, playing with time or character. I look forward to what these writers do next” – Daisy Johnson

“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” – James Canton

LiFTS Wild Writing Prize winner Martin Horn, who lives in Montreal, said of his story: “As climate change becomes less of an abstraction and more of an active and ongoing crisis, I’ve been wondering how that transition unfolds within an individual; how they frame new information that is constantly surfacing, how they manage anxiety, and how they recalibrate their expectations for the possibilities of their own life. My hope was that this story would depict that process in one person and the people around them, both in terms of surviving disaster and in its impact on a much more ordinary set of hopes and aspirations. I am absolutely thrilled and delighted that it has been selected.”

Short Fiction has this week published ‘Le Château’, and will be publishing ‘Aoife’, ‘The Grit, The Mussel,’ ‘Good Job Pressing’ on 19th September 2022. All the stories will be accompanied by bespoke illustrations by four professional artists. Short Fiction journal has been publishing the best in literary short stories from around the world in print and online since 2006. It is one of the UK’s most highly regarded online literary journals.

“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,” said Short Fiction editor James Young. “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 (LiFTS) at the University of Essex for its invaluable support in making the prize possible.”

The Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) at the University of Essex is an interdisciplinary department with expertise in English literature, drama, creative writing, journalism, film and screen media. The department offers several undergraduate and postgraduate creative writing courses including an MA in Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment.


Trahearne Falvey lives in South London and writes about precarity, futurity and, increasingly, transcendence (despite being a thoroughly lapsed Catholic). His fiction and criticism have appeared in journals including Lunate, Necessary Fiction and 3AM Magazine, and he was the winner of the 2020 Aurora Prize for Writing. He is on Twitter sometimes, @TrahearneF.

Jon Stapley is a writer, editor and photographer based in London, and is on Twitter and Instagram as @j_stapling.

Jessica Lee Richardson goes by Jess/she/her and lives in the Eastern U.S. where she teaches at Coastal Carolina University. She is the author of It Had Been Planned and There Were Guides (FC2) and stories that have appeared or are forthcoming in Adroit, the Commuter at Electric Lit, Gulf Coast, the Rupture, and Slice Magazine among others.

Martin Horn is a writer from Montreal, Canada. He has recently finished writing a novel about artistic envy, friendship, and surveillance. He tweets occasionally at @martin_horn.

Main Prize Shortlist

‘Aniela and James: a love story’ by Wayne Connolly

‘Beneath I’m All Bare Shoulders and Collarbones’ by Eimear Arthur

‘Ladyfingers’ by M.E. Bronstein

‘Like Mothers Do’ by Christina Sanders

Main Prize Longlist

‘Across The Dark Water’ by Ciaran Folan

‘Destroying The Tank’ by Sam Hacking

‘Fool’s Errand’ by Martin Costello

‘I Took A Train’ by Rory Duffy

‘Matamoros, September 1846’ by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

‘Only Half There’ by Jody O’Neill

Wild Writing Prize Shortlist

‘My Mother Says No, Stop’ by Mathilde Merouani

‘Quercivorous’ by Charlotte Turnbull

‘Ratty’ by Danielle Vrublevskis

All the stories are available to read on: https://www.shortfictionjournal.co.uk/

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