We are delighted to announce our four winners for April, as chosen by acclaimed short story writer and novelist Kevin Barry, whose eagerly anticipated second short story collection Dark Lies the Island is released next month by Jonathan Cape. They are:
Braille of Brocade, by Mary Healy
The Long-Lost Father, by Cathy Sweeney
I’m Sorry, It’s Bad News, by Madeline Parsons
The Dispossessed, by Emma Purcell
Kevin had the following to say about his selection:
“Again this year I was struck by the high quality of the eight longlisted stories, and by the true notes that were struck in each and every one of them. It was as always terribly difficult to make a shortlist of four from the eight, but here are the stories I have opted for …
The Long-Lost Father … This was odd, and very funny, and knowing, and somehow or other – I have no idea how the writer achieved this effect – there was a kind of a strange domestic sweetness about it. It’s a very unusual contraption, which shows that a short story does not have to adhere to the established templates for the form. I think it’s a very successful piece, and I loved it.
The Dispossessed … Even lives that are half-glimpsed can be fully known, and what makes this story work is as much the information that’s withheld as the information that’s given. There’s a kind of compelling hauntedness about this quiet and sad piece set in a shared house in the faded Victorian suburbs of Dublin. Somehow the atmosphere of the house seeps into the story, and this is what makes the story.
Braille Of Brocade … This is a story that works on the accumulation of small, tightly-observed details,and the details are always aptly and cannily chosen, and as the details pile up, the story’s subtle and difficult emotions are sprung. Again, this is a story that thrives on its atmosphere, and here it’s a sombre and aching one that’s entirely in keeping with the story’s themes.
I’m Sorry, It’s Bad News … The darkest matter of all is weighed and dealt with in this very fine fiction. It never strays into sentiment, it is delivered in a strong and lucid prose, and underpinning all of its everyday tragedy there is a delicious, bleak humour. The character is perfectly realised, she lives and breathes on the page – I thought that was a first-rate short story. Wonderful.”
Don’t forget to join us on Thursday, April 26th at 7pm for a drinks reception and special reading of these stories at the Irish Writers’ Centre. It’s a free event and open to everyone. See you there!