Frank O’ Connor Short Story Shortlist is out and ready for the taking

Unfortunately, we have no Irish authors in the Frank O’ Connor Short Story Prize short list. Though we had 8 Irish ones in the longlist-Celeste AugeEmma Donoghue, Kitty Fitzgerald, Aideen Henry, Mike Mc Cormack, Alan Mc Gonagle, Micheal O Conghaile and Joyce Russell. So, pretty good really.

Across the water, we have Deborah Levy, Claire Vaye Watkins and David Constantine up against Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Stamm and Tomas Dobozy.

The award is worth €25,000, the world’s best award for a single short-story collection, and has been won by some of the biggest names in literature from Haruki Murakami to Nathan Englander and Edna O’Brien. This year judges chose a shortlist of six titles from 78 titles.

Choosing the final six, said judge and Irish author John Deane, was “no less than an adventure”.

“From an ebb-tide in the short-story form – particularly in Ireland and the UK over the last few decades – to this flood-tide proved a delight and a deep sense of optimism in me for the form,” said Deane. “Overall, among the original 78, there were very few titles that could be dismissed quickly, hence the wealth and excitement of the presentation at our discussion. I have been enlightened, at times even mesmerised, at the variety, the strength, the depth and the numbers of experimental books.”

Imagine how I feel, I’ve got the pleasure of getting down to reading and reviewing them all, before September. Homework was never like this in school! Before that, I’ve got a review of Susan Stair’s new novel The story of before and Joyce Russell’s Bloodlines. I also have many more books that I probably won’t get time to give a detailed review too like Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision, Collected stories of Lydia Davis and Ancient Lights. And yes, I know the last one is a year old but I like to take it slow in relationship building.

The winner will be announced in the first week of July, with the award to be presented in September at the culmination of the Cork International Short Story Festival. Again, my life clashes with things like this. 2 weddings lined up that weekend, no where near Cork… I will be there in spirit!

Do you agree? What do you think?