Shortlist for the 2019 Victoria University Short Story Prize

The Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize encourages excellent and original short fiction by new writers of up to 3000 words in length. At a grand first prize of $6000, it is a coveted annual fiction award. There are also two runner-up prizes of $1000. All three winners, along with the judges’ notes, will be published in the spring issue of Overland.

We’d like to thank the many entrants who worked hard on their story submissions for the prize this year. Our four judges for the 2019 competition – writers Pip Adam, Michelle Aung Thin, Steven Amsterdam and Enza Gandolfo – have now decided on a shortlist of fourteen outstanding stories.

The judges, Overland and Victoria University are thrilled to introduce the 2019 shortlist:

Claire Aman (NSW)


Claire_Aman_photo.JPGQuinn ran away when he was a kid and never came back, but you never did anything, did you Quinn?

Claire Aman grew up in Melbourne and has lived around Grafton, NSW for 30 years. Her story collection Bird Country was published in 2017 by Text. Her stories have been shortlisted in the 2012 Overland Short Story Prize, the Overland Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize and the Elizabeth Jolley Prize. Her stories have also won the EJ Brady, Wet Ink and Hal Porter awards, and appeared in journals and anthologies.


Anne Casey (VIC)

Starving in the land of plenty’

Anne Casey portrait 1‘Starving in the land of plenty’ is about a status-driven organisation where desperate staff compete for free food to assuage their longing for what they don’t have.

Anne Casey lives in Seaholme. She won the 2018 Peter Carey Short Story Prize and her work has been published in Meanjin, Island, Westerly and medical journal The Lancet. She is working on a novel called ‘Our glorious futures’, and a gothic novella called ‘I’ve waited so long’.


Joyce Chew (NSW)

Water bodies’

Joyce Chew‘Water bodies’ reflects on the relationship between collective and personal trauma as well as the past and the present, drawing connections between a young woman’s psychological decline in modern-day Sydney and her family history following the fall of Singapore in 1942.

Joyce Chew is a writer and illustrator based in Sydney. She was shortlisted for the Emerging Writer’s Festival’s Monash Prize and graduated from UNSW with a Bachelor of Commerce/Arts with first-class honours in English literature. She enjoys reading and researching about subaltern voices and World Literature.


Peter Eade (VIC)

The cure for sleep’

Peter Eade‘The cure for sleep’ concerns the role of technology under capitalism, envisaging a scenario in which technologies directly re-figure our species-being in order to make us more productive and competitive.

Peter Eade grew up in NSW and Queensland. His career trajectory towards computer science was derailed when he discovered philosophy, film, and speculative fiction, and the electives he took in these fields overtook his original degree. He now haunts the cafes, libraries and op-shops of Melbourne’s inner-North, seemingly interminably, and is researching the themes of labour and technology in speculative fiction at Monash University.



Laura Elvery (QLD)

‘A brief history of petroleum’

Elvery_pic_1‘A brief history of petroleum’ is a story about a lost son and drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

‘Fruit flies’

Bridie tries to make amends for past wrongs even as she commits more mistakes.

Laura Elvery is the author of Trick of the Light (UQP, 2018) and a recent Queensland Writers Fellowship winner. Laura’s short fiction has been published in Griffith Review, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings and Overland. Her next collection of stories will be out in 2020.


Melanie Napthine (VIC)

Eulogy example: search ALL’

Melanie NapthineTheir mother’s death revives an ongoing struggle between siblings over the truth about their shared but very different childhoods.

Melanie Napthine is a Melbourne-based writer who works in educational publishing. Her awards include first prizes in the Margaret River story competition, the FAW award for an unpublished manuscript, the Boroondara story competition, the Henry Lawson story competition, the Ethel Webb Bundell awards and the Katherine Susannah Prichard competition.


Rebecca Slater (NSW)


Rebecca Slater - PicIn a drought-affected small town, a woman returns home to care for her ailing father – while, outside, the water is drying up and men are beginning to disappear.

Rebecca Slater is a writer from Sydney. She was recently named a recipient of the Marten Bequest Scholarship and the winner of the AM Heath Prize for Fiction. She is currently working on her first novel.



‘The installation’

A father spends the summer with his children.

AS lives in Sydney. Her stories and essays have appeared in print and online in publications such as Southerly, Overland, Meanjin and Antipodes. A is represented by the Jane Novak Literary Agency.


Beth Thompson (VIC / Jamaica)


bethbrown (1)‘Blacks’ is based on the author’s own family’s conflict with colourism and the internalisation of colonialism in the Caribbean.

Beth Thompson currently studies creative writing at Deakin University. She writes stories for her family. She wants them to see their narratives as important and to celebrate Jamaican culture.


Lara Saunders (SA)

‘Mother me’

SaundersLove, neglected love and the finality of goodbye.

Lara Saunders lives in Adelaide. She studied creative writing and then social work. Her writing is inspired by people, their stories, and the essentials of being human. She was longlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2019 and shortlisted for the 2018 Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize. She is working on a novel-length manuscript.


Jack Vening (ACT)

Don’t tell me’

Jack VeningA group of former cons join an ill-fated program that tries to scare teenagers with woeful tales of road safety.

Jack Vening is a writer and editor from Canberra whose stories have appeared in The Lifted Brow and many places elsewhere. He is on the editorial team at Crikey and his fiction newsletter, Small Town Grievances, goes out to a few hundred strangers every few weeks.


Angella Whitton (NSW)

Out to sea’

Angella_Whitton_PhotoAn old fisherman, who never learnt to swim, finds himself afloat at sea on an upturned esky.

Angella Whitton studied writing at Sydney University. Her manuscripts have been chosen for the Varuna Publishers Introduction Program 2019 and the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program 2015. Her stories have appeared in Westerly, Visible Ink and the Australian Women’s Weekly. She likes tea, art, Japan, libraries and rivers.


Grace Yee (VIC)

‘We safe land smooth fly THANK GOD’

Grace_Yee_3_Aug_2019It’s late Thursday evening the week before Christmas and Ma and Aunty Nola have flown into Melbourne because ‘poor wee Liza she got the brain tumour’.

Grace Yee writes short fiction, poetry and essays. Her work has recently appeared in Meanjin, Rabbit, Poetry NZ Yearbook and The Shanghai Literary Review. She teaches writing and literature at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University, and is currently a Creative Fellow at the State Library of Victoria.



Congratulations again to these excellent writers. Final results will be announced at Overland in the next fortnight!


VU logoThe Victoria University Short Story Prize is supported by Victoria University, Melbourne



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

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