The Shortlist for the Frank O’Connor Prize

The Frank O’Connor Prize, offered in memory of the great writer, honors a short story collection and its author each year. This highly sought after award comes induces fierce competition. With a prize of €25,000, it is monetarily the biggest award for a short story collection. Past winners include Haruki Murakami, Miranda July, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Nathan Englander.

This year has been a great one for the short story genre, which makes the competition even more exciting. The shortlist of collections that are finalists for the award was announced on June 13th. It includes four American writers, one Irish writer, and one writer from the United Kingdom. To be considered for the prize, the collection must be have been published in English for the first time during the year of reading. Judges are tasked with reading about 60 short story collections that are then whittled down to a short list of five or six. This year’s shortlist is as follows:

Young Skins by Colin Barrett: Mostly set in a fictional Irish town, this short story collection explores the lives of young men and women in contemporary Ireland.
All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy: This is a collection of stories that are linked by love that are marred by physical and psychic pain rather than chocolates and kisses.
Redeployment by Phil Klay: Written by a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, this collection takes readers to the front lines of the wars in the Middle East as the characters struggle through their fears to survive.
Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus: This collection reads as an investigation into human vulnerability using traditional narratives, as well as experimental, to explore the possibilities of form.
Bark by Lori Moore: Delving into the public and private spheres of American life, this collection ranges from tragedy to comedy and the many stops in between.
The Isle of Youth by Laura Van Den Berg: Focused on the lives of women in different stages of life, these stories are connected by the presence of deception and lies.

The judges for this year’s award have been vocal about the exceptional works. Alison MacLeod, one of the judges, stated “The stories in these collections moved me, provoked me, and knocked the breath out of me. They take the reader down deep; they bring him or her up short. With every great short story—and they are numerous across these six collections—the world expands.”

The winner will be announced in early July, giving you just under a month to read all six collections and make your pick for the winner!



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