Shortlist for the 2016 VU Short Story Prize

Overland and Victoria University are pleased to announce that the three judges of this year’s Victoria University Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers – Overland fiction editor Jennifer Mills, Overland editor Jacinda Woodhead and Victoria University’s Alison Whan – have reduced this year’s 500 entries to a shortlist of fourteen stories. (Please note: all stages of this competition were judged blind.)

Diverse in style, subject and approach, these shortlisted stories impressed the judges with their daring, originality and control.

Winning stories for the $8000 prize will be announced in a fortnight’s time. All three stories, along with the judges’ report, will appear in Overland’s next issue, to be released in early September.

Introducing the 2016 shortlist:


‘The Way to Amalthea’, Michalia Arathimos

A story about one person’s quest for hidden truths, and all those double-sided coins: the spiritual and the material, sex and contempt, age and youth, mysticism and mental illness. 

Michalia Arathimos has published poetry and short stories in many publications including Westerly, Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 4, Lost in Translation, Sport, JAAM, Turbine, Metro, The NZ Listener, JAAM and Blackmail Press. Her debut novel, Aukati, will be released by Mākaro Press in 2017.


Robyn Black

‘Satellite ride’, Robyn Black

A somewhat dark snapshot of the intricate, dysfunctional and even brutal lives we may find ourselves living, the triggers of epiphany, and unexpected consequences juxtaposed against actions that polarise views of how everyday acts of violence are justified.

Robyn Black is a short story writer and award-winning poet. Former editor of Tamba Magazine, she has been published in various literary magazines and on the Australian Poetry website.  Black was longlisted in the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2011) and shortlisted in the 2016 Alan Marshall Short Story Award.


Hop Dac Pic-overland

‘Corona’, Hop Dac

Minh is going to Crown Casino in a desperate attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend, Trang, but his friend Cuong knows that nothing good will come of it.    

Hop Dac is a painter, writer and editor. He has worked variously in independent publishing, theatre and arts, and is currently Associate Editor at Kill Your Darlings. Born in Vietnam, Hop was raised and studied Fine Art in Western Australia and these days calls the western suburbs of Melbourne home.



‘The eviction’, Caitlin Doyle-Markwick

A hundred evictions, two tired souls, one tiny flat and a lamb roast.

Caitlin Doyle-Markwick lives in Sydney. She is a refugee rights and anti-racism activist, and a member of Solidarity. Caitlin has been published in Overland, Cordite Poetry Review, broadcast on fbi radio’s All the Best and exhibited as part of Sydney’s Interlude Gallery Writers Program.


Laura Elvery

‘Cold springs’, Laura Elvery

Months earlier, Lily had sat in Chelsea’s bedroom, watching her copy and paste notes off the internet about stocking up on tinned food and batteries.

Laura Elvery is a writer from Brisbane. Her fiction is published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Kill Your Darlings, Award-Winning Australian Writing, and Griffith Review.


Zoe Meager

‘A place called doubtful’, Zoe Meager

A true love story, from the head of the grave to the foot.

Zoë Meager is from Christchurch, New Zealand. She won the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, Pacific Region, in 2013, and in 2015 was runner-up for the Overland Story Wine Prize. Her work has appeared in several publications – see


Kylie MG

‘Fundamental/isms’, Kylie Moore-Gilbert

Encounters with religion and gender in the modern Middle East.

Kylie is currently finishing up her PhD in Middle Eastern politics, and this story was inspired by her experiences living and travelling throughout the region. Whilst she has published a number of academic articles, ‘Fundamental/isms’ is her first foray into fiction.



‘Harpoon ditch’, Adam Narnst

Harpoon ditch is about a writer trying to understand one facet of a city as big as a country, how he didn’t think he was smart enough, got homesick, gave up, wrote a poem instead.

Adam Narnst is a writer who has lived between Shanghai and South-East Queensland since 2008. His stories have appeared in Australia’s Best Stories 2014, Griffith Review, Wet Ink and Antique Children. He was an AsiaLink Arts Resident at the Shanghai Writers Association in 2015. He teaches writing and literature and currently works at Chiang Mai University where years of fighting, writing and recreational masochism will never catch up with him. He has one unpublished novel.



‘Pigeon’, Emily Riches

Davey’s lifelong fear of birds begins after a disturbing encounter in the park. 

Emily is a writer currently living in Sydney. She won the Monash University Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing in 2014 and has since been published in Seizure, Newcastle Short Story Prize Anthology (2016), The World To Come (2015) and Verge Magazine (2014).



‘Baby grand’, Simon Rowe

Set to the backdrop of tiny Ovalau island in Fiji, a snobbish European widow must ask for the help of local fish cannery workers when an oversized heirloom arrives by ship from New Zealand.

Simon Rowe teaches writing to English language learners at Himeji Dokkyo University in western Japan. His stories have appeared in TIME Asia, the New York Times, the Weekend Australian and the Paris Review. His blog, Seaweed Salad Days, offers a commentary on life in a disappearing Japanese neighborhood.


‘The acorn of sadness’, AS

This story is about the choices we have from inside our grief. 

AS is a writer living in Sydney. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in various anthologies and journals such as MeanjinOverland and Award Winning Australian Stories. She has received the UTS Writers’ Prize and was runner-up in the 2016 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.



‘Broad hatchet’, Julia Tulloh Harper

Hungry for the challenge of surviving in isolation and the peace of the bush, a young woman ventures alone into the Australian forest to build a slab hut – but she soon learns that the wilderness cannot necessarily provide the solace that she seeks.

Julia Tulloh Harper is a writer in Melbourne. She has worked as a pop culture columnist for Kill Your Darlings, and is currently working on a PhD about gender in Cormac McCarthy’s fiction. She tweets at @jtul and blogs at


Ben Walter

‘All hollows’, Ben Walter

The narrator – sequentially, a vampire, werewolf and zombie – can’t sleep. 

Ben Walter is a writer of lyrical and experimental fiction who has been widely published in Australian journals, including Meanjin, Overland, Island, Griffith Review and The Lifted Brow. He has twice been shortlisted in the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes, and recently guest-edited Overland’s anti-/dis-/un-Australian fiction issue.



‘Unlabelled bottles’, David Wright

In 1921, in La Garenne-Colombes, in an alley just off Place de Belgique, before adopting the nickname ‘Xiǎopíng’, a young Dèng Xiānshēng drinks unlabelled bottles of Australian wine and has a brief affair with Flavie Valois, a woman whose features are, according to her non-biological parents, ‘Indigenous to the Oceanic continent’, ‘albinic’, and ‘most peculiar’.

David Thomas Henry Wright has a Masters from The University of Edinburgh and has lectured at China’s top university, Tsinghua, where he developed the school’s first ever course in Australian Literature. He is currently a PhD candidate at Murdoch University and co-editor of Westerly: New Creative.

Congratulations again to the shortlist, and many thanks to all those writers who submitted.

If you appreciate Overland’s support of new writers, please consider subscribing or donating.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays