The $6000 major prize in Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers has been won by Tara Cartland with her story ‘Frank O’Hara’s Animals’. The joint runners-up are Melissa Fagan with ‘The Day the World Stayed the Same’ and John Turner with ‘The Killing Floor’. Each will receive $1000.
The prize – one of the richest awards in Australia for emerging writers – attracted 622 entries, all of which were assessed blind. The judging panel (Victoria University academic Enza Gandolfo, Overland editor Jeff Sparrow, Overland deputy editor Jacinda Woodhead and Overland fiction editor Jennifer Mills) selected a short list of nineteen stories – seventeen by women and two by men – from which the winners were then chosen.
In the judges’ report, Mills notes that ‘Frank O’Hara’s Animals’, a fantastical coming-of-age narrative, stood out both because of its themes and its execution.
‘For all its suggestions of evil,’ she says, ‘this story is suffused with a human longing for contact, and the sadness of being an outsider.’
All three stories, along with Mills’ comment, are published in Overland 209 and are now up online at overland.org.au.
‘Each of these stories was captivating,’ writes Mills, ‘even on multiple readings, and each is a well-deserved winner. Here at Overland we’ve been very pleased to be able to offer a lucrative reward to good writing, to promote the visibility of the short story form with this competition, and in particular, to continue our support and encouragement of emerging writers.’
The prize – a collaboration between Overland literary journal and Victoria University – will re-open in 2013.