Announcing the 2022 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 2023 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: Laura Elvery, Paige Clark and Michael Winkler. They had the daunting task of reading, considering and narrowing over 400 entries down to a shortlist of seven outstanding pieces.

Congratulations to these seven writers who form the shortlist for the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize:

Daniel Alwan


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

Daniel Alwan is a queer Australian-Lebanese writer and over-thinker practising on unceded Gadigal land. His short story, Sunshine, was shortlisted for the 2022 Furphy Literary Award and published in the accompanying anthology. He holds an MA in English from the University of Sydney, where he also works as an English language teacher.

Claire Aman

‘Golden Hour’

Dawn finally repays her neighbour the two hundred dollars for that time on the Pioneer bus, when she sat bolt upright all the way around Australia looking for her son.

Claire Aman lives in Grafton, NSW – Bundjalung Country. Her 2017 short story collection Bird Country was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd and Colin Roderick Awards. Her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Australian Book Review, Island, Southerly and other publications. She directs The Long Way Home community writing project.

Miso Bell

‘Thirsty Trees’

Artificial organisms, the migration patterns of seeds, playing ecology like chess: Thirsty Trees is a collection of the natural turning alien.

Miso Bell (they/them) is an internationally published writer and stand-up comedian living on unceded Wurundjeri Country. They write for stage, screen and publication – but mostly, for fame and glory.

CJ Garrow

‘My Sweary Neighbour’

A septuagenarian attempts to befriend a much-despised local loudmouth; the results are inscribed in history.

CJ Garrow is a writer from Naarm/Melbourne.

Kim Kelly

‘Unnoted: Birdsong on the Road to Nowhere’

‘As our deepest love songs fragment with ecological collapse, how can we hope to hear the complex language of our planet, if we can’t even hear each other?’

Kim Kelly lives and works amid the rolling golden hills of Wiradjuri Country, with gratitude. Author of twelve novels, her latest, The Rat Catcher, was longlisted for the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize. She holds a Master of Creative writing from Macquarie University, where she is currently undertaking graduate research.

Zoë Meager


Two siblings are consumed by the sensory world of a family day trip. 

Zoë is from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her work has appeared in Cheap Pop, Granta, Hue and Cry, Landfall, Lost Balloon, Mascara Literary Review, Meniscus, North & South, Overland, and Splonk, among others. She’s a fiction reader for Overland and edits fiction and comics for takahē magazine.

Lawrence Patchett

‘Half-Time at the Roost’

A local reporter combines a work trip to a rugby league game with a chance to reconnect with his daughter.

Lawrence Patchett lives in Ōtautahi/ Christchurch. Once employed at a local community paper, like the protagonist of ‘Half-Time at the Roost’, he now works as a writer and editor. His first book of short fiction was I Got His Blood On Me, and he is currently working on another.

Image credit: Ebony Lamb

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

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

Editorial Team


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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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