The Stinging Fly are delighted to announce the return of the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award — Ireland’s biggest short story competition.
Prize fund: €15,000 for the best short story, plus five runner-up prizes of €1,000
Competition Judges: Anne Enright, Yiyun Li and Jon McGregor
—The competition is open to Irish citizens and to writers who are resident or were born in the thirty-two counties.
—Entries must consist of a previously unpublished short story written in English. The maximum word count is 15,000 words, no minimum. Only one story per entrant.
—We will be accepting entries from December 1st 2013. No online entries. Entries must be posted/delivered to Davy Byrnes Short Story Award, c/o Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin City Libraries, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.
—The deadline for receipt of entries is Monday, Feb 3rd 2014. There is a €10 entry fee, payable online or by cheque/postal order.
—The six short-listed writers will be announced in late May/early June 2014 and the overall winner announced in June 2014.
The competition is sponsored by Davy Byrnes and organised by The Stinging Fly in association with Dublin UNESCO City of Literature
For further information about the award — and to enter your story! — please visit our website.
What the judges say:
The Davy Byrnes Award is given to a story that has the writer’s name removed, the judges of the prize have been more international than local and the prize money is substantial. These three things meant the world to me when I won in 2004, a time when I felt washed up on the shores of the Irish boom. The short story yields truth more easily than any other form, and these truths abide in changing times. As a writer turned judge, I am looking for a story that could not have been written any other way; that is as good as it wants to be; that is the just the right size for itself.
I am a staunch advocate for short stories, and respect any organisation/effort that supports stories and story writers. I am thrilled to be serving as a judge for the Davy Byrnes Award. As for what I look for in a short story, to borrow from Tolstoy: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ There are stories written like happy families, which one reads and forgets the moment one puts them down. But the stories that belong to the category of unhappy families, they can do all kinds of things: they touch a reader, or leave a wound that never heals; they challenge a reader’s view, or even infuriate a reader; they lead to a desire in the reader’s heart to be more eloquent in his ways of responding to the story yet leave the reader more speechless than before. A good story is like someone one does not want to miss in life.
I’m both thrilled and slightly daunted to be taking part in judging the Davy Byrnes Award this year. Thrilled, because it’s a prize with an astounding track record of unearthing great talent and excellent stories; the previous judges have clearly had a very sharp reading eye. Daunted, for pretty much the same reasons. There’s a lot to live up to.
What I look for in a short story is a kind of intensity of purpose and a clarity of expression; something which holds my attention and rings clearly in my reading mind. For me, this is mostly something in the voice on the page; something in the control of the syntax, which immediately puts me in the world of that story. If it’s there, it usually kicks in within the first few lines; after that, it’s just a matter of seeing whether the writer can really keep it up.