Announcing the 2021 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 loosely around the notion of ‘travel’. The competition is open to all writers living in Australia and elsewhere, and at any stage in their writing career. This year, first place receives $5000 and publication in the autumn 2022 issue of Overland, while two runner-up stories will be awarded $750 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 dedicated judges: Julie Koh, Alice Robinson and Mykaela Saunders. They had the daunting task of reading, considering and narrowing over 400 entries down to a shortlist of eight outstanding pieces.

Congratulations to these eight writers who form the shortlist for the 2021 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize:

Germain Canon

‘The Quake’

An office worker falls through the crumbling floors of an hyperinflated Taipei city, in search of a place to rest.

Germain Canon is a visual artist living in an unaffordable apartment in Taipei, Taiwan. He combines writing with his paintings and installations to explore the precarity of contemporary landscapes. He grew up in Brussels where he studied architecture and wrote an award-winning master thesis about the narrative qualities of built space.

Harmony DenRonden


A tense and hallucinatory journey as an unknown man desperately flees for his life.

Harmony DenRonden is associate editor of the Asian Ethnology journal and also edits for Oxford University Press. A new creative writer, she lives and writes on beautiful but unceded Kabi Kabi land.

Dan Dixon

‘Leaving for America’

Mark, an unsuccessful artist, farewells a neighbour, tries to reassure himself about the value of his artmaking, and witnesses an accident.

Dan Dixon is a writer and academic based in Sydney. He has written for publications including The Guardian, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, Canberra Times and Overland. He was a 2021 Sydney Review of Books Emerging Critics Fellow.

Michelle Hamadache

‘The Crane Fly’

‘The Crane Fly’ is a story of young lovers who find themselves working in a hell’s kitchen located in the heart of Dante’s woods, and presided over by a fantastical woman, una donna cannone.

Michelle Hamadache’s short stories, essays and creative nonfiction works have been published in Australian and international journals. She is currently writing a novella set in Sydney, and a series of uncanny tales set in Algeria, Italy and Australia, because she thinks borders are there to be crossed.

Michelle Prak

‘Fairy Lights’

‘Fairy Lights’ traces two teenagers playing at grown-up and experiencing their first motel stay.

Michelle Prak is a writer balancing thriller manuscripts with literary short stories, aided by milky coffee and two cats who fit neatly into her desk in-trays. She runs a solo PR consultancy and also teaches at the University of South Australia.

Mikee Donato Sto Domingo

‘Bite the Hand’

Amid a global mass extinction event and imminent ecological collapse, passengers onboard a luxury cruise ship visit Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Mikee Sto Domingo is a Filipino-New Zealander currently living in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. She has a BA in English Literature from Victoria University and an MA from the IIML. Her work has been published in Turbine, Newsroom, and A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Saraid Taylor

‘the labeller’

A young athlete uses a gift from her aunt to tame the world around her.

The daughter of two charity-founders, Saraid Taylor is a writer, poet and athlete who grew up on Wurundjeri land. Her work has recently been shortlisted for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing, the Djillong Short Story Competition and the Alan Marshall Short Story Prize. You can find her at:

Miriam Webster

‘New Directions in Anthropomorphism’

A writer contemplates ecology, a short-finned eel races toward extinction, and a psychoanalyst gives the talking cure to a grieving marine biologist, in this polyvocal story within a story.

Miriam Webster lives in Naarm/Melbourne. She thinks and writes on what is funny and moving about love’s complications, millennial dread, and the sometimes unbearable torment of living. She has almost finished a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing at the University of Melbourne.

Congratulations again to these exciting new writers. Final results will be announced at Overland soon!

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The Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation

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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