Announcing the 2019 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize Shortlist

Supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation and named after the late novelist and poet, Neilma Gantner, the Overland Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize seeks moving, powerful and original short fiction of up to 3000 words themed around the notion of ‘travel’. The competition is open to writers worldwide and at any stage in their writing career. This year, first place receives $4000 and publication in Overland 238, while two runner-up stories will be awarded $500 each and published at Overland online, coinciding with the print edition.

Thank you to everyone who entered the prize, the quality of the work we received was very high this year! We’d also like to recognise the hard work of this year’s incredibly dedicated judges: Hannah Kent, Joshua Mostafa and Margo Lanagan. They had the challenging task of reading, considering and narrowing over 450 entries down to a shortlist of eight outstanding pieces.

Congratulations to these eight exceptional writers who form the shortlist for the 2019 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize:

Kerry Munnery


A woman tries to hide from judgement at her childhood beach house, but she is no longer a child, and the house may prove to be no haven.

Kerry Munnery has published short stories, nonfiction and children’s works, and completed a Master of Arts (Creative Writing) at RMIT. She has been shortlisted or awarded prizes in several short story competitions, and was longlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015. She lives in Melbourne’s inner north and is working on a novel.

Dean Gessie

Ping Pong in Bangkok

‘Ping Pong in Bangkok’ documents the pathology of the main character through the relationship with her pet dog.

Dean Gessie has won multiple international prizes for his poetry and fiction. Most recently, he won the Eyelands Book Award and the Uncollected Press Prize for a short story collection. Dean has also published three novellas with Anaphora Literary Press in Texas.

Sarah Gory


A story of siblings, the passing of time, and the complex relationships we have with the places and people we call home.

Sarah Gory is a writer, editor and publisher in Naarm. She is the Managing Editor of un Projects, and has worked in leadership positions in the arts for the past decade. Sarah writes at the intersection of memoir and critique, and has been published widely in Australian magazines and journals.

Jenah Shaw

‘The Houseguest’

New to the city and needing a place to stay, a young woman becomes a guest in the home of family with no extra room.

Jenah Shaw has worked as an editor and freelance writer in New Zealand and Japan. While her post-graduate study focused on modernist literature, her writing interests are varied. She currently lives in Wellington.

Elisabeth Passmore

‘Westernport Crossing’

In 1933, eleven year-old Rex Simpson is sent to a boys’ home on Phillip Island where the only way out is by boat.

Elisabeth Passmore lives in Sydney. She has been longlisted for the ABR, Elizabeth Jolley and Peter Carey Short Story awards and twice shortlisted for the Overland VU Short Story Award.

Alan Sincic

‘The Postcard from Nowheresville’

Meet a grifter who conjures up out of a cow pasture and a surplus army projector a magical drive-in, The Piney Vista — Vistarama they call it – a picture of the world the way it ought to be, night after night, burned up onto a screen bright as a sheet of beach at the drop of the tide.

A teacher at Valencia College, Alan Sincic‘s fiction has appeared in New Ohio Review, The Greensboro Review, Hunger Mountain, Big Fiction Magazine, A-3 Press, The Gateway Review, Cobalt, and elsewhere. He recently won The Texas Observer Short Story Contest and the Adrift Short Story Contest (Driftwood Press).


Kerrin O’Sullivan

‘The Memory Palace’

Meg takes her mother back to the Queensland beach resort where Meg’s parents had holidayed together for many years.

Kerrin O’Sullivan is a Melbourne-based writer with a love of words and faraway places. Her stories have appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing, Kill Your Darlings, Westerly and elsewhere—travel features in The Weekend Australian, The Age and Jetstar Inflight. She was a 2016 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow for short fiction.


Gretchen Shirm

‘Hiroshima Blooms’

‘Hiroshima Blooms’ is set in the Japanese city of Hiroshima and deals with the main character’s obsession as a small girl with the picture book ‘My Hiroshima’. It forms part of a novel-in-stories titled ‘the Crying Room’.

Gretchen Shirm is the author of a collection of short stories Having Cried Wolf, for which she named a 2011 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist. Her first novel Where the Light Falls, was shortlisted for the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.


Congratulations to those shortlisted! Final results will be announced at Overland soon.

Image: Ronald Smeets/Unsplash

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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