What a year of entries it has been! And what a shortlist we had to choose from! The panel of judges so enjoyed reading them and discussing the impact each had on them individually. Putting one story up against another and deciding which is ‘best’ is, of course, never easy. We would have liked to award the crown to at least five winners but, ultimately, after considering which story delivered most in terms of characterisation, story arc and ambition, we agreed. Congratulations to everyone who made it on to the shortlist, and especially to those mentioned here.
The winner of the Bournemouth Writing Prize for the Short Story is:
The Prescription by Terry Kerins
Terry Kerins was born in Macroom in Co. Cork, Ireland and studied Pharmacy in Trinity College, Dublin. Terry enjoys reading fiction and has been writing short stories for many years. After taking a break for a few sleep-deprived years (due to becoming a mother) she has rekindled her love and interest in writing and is reworking older pieces and writing new short stories and flash fiction. She lives in Cork city with her daughter.
The judges said: From the very beginning of ‘The Prescription’ we were hooked. Extremely assured and sharply observed; the author offers a strikingly convincing depiction of the slow creep of a mother’s addiction to Xanax against the backdrop of her interior and family life. A masterclass in rendering the mundane gripping, with devastating precision. The author creates such a compelling, ominous sense of growing anxiety, a sense that things are just about being held together.There’s something brilliantly knowing about the prose, and the characters leap off the page.
Highly commended and also very much in the running were:
Up by Neil Tully
Neil Tully is a writer from the west of Ireland. He was the overall winner at the Write by the Sea Literary Festival 2021 and was named New Roscommon Writer of the Year 2021. His work has appeared in the Irish Independent, The Honest Ulsterman and elsewhere.
The judges said: We loved this depiction of a young man painfully aware of the constraints of his environment while struggling for agency. You get the feeling that his fate is spinning on a dime. The explosive ending has such a powerful sense of fatalism, promising both destruction and freedom. It’s so well done.Powerfully descriptive of both people and place, from a writer with real potential.
Father’s Day by Chris Cottom
Chris Cottom is a retired insurance copywriter (Key Features of the Stakeholder Transfer Plan) now trying to write other fiction: flash, novellas-in-flash, and short stories. In the early 1970s he lived next door to JRR Tolkien.
The judges said: A beautifully observed and tender portrait of a man taking his father to visit old haunts. The characters in ‘Father’s Day’ are so well-formed: there’s a beautiful subtlety to the way the author introduces father and son and makes you aware of the dynamic between them. The story encapsulates the poignancy of the father-son relationship at the point, which many adult children eventually experience, when the roles are beginning to reverse, Everything builds to the remarkable ending: the beauty of the music, the out-pouring of emotion that it provokes, is all the more affecting for its gentleness and we found this story really moving in its simplicity.
The Man Who Loves Tchaikovsky Beats His Wife by Sara Keating
Sara Keating is a writer and cultural journalist from Dublin, Ireland. Her story Mamo was runner-up in the RTE Francis McManus Award 2021.
The judges said: Cleverly structured and stylistically deft, this anatomy of a relationship between an abuser and his victim portrays their degradation with impressive insight. There’s not a word out of place in these short sections; they land even harder for their simplicity.
‘The Prescription’ features in one of our anthologies, Passages, due to be published on Amazon in July.
‘Up’ is going to be published in another of our anthologies, Dark Circles, also coming out in July.
An anthology of all shortlisted entries to The Bournemouth Writing Prize 2022 is due to be published later in the year.