Story Wine Prize: judges’ report

It was the great pleasure of the judges (Campbell Mattinson, Clare Strahan and me) to read through the 400 submissions for the Overland Story Wine Prize, whittling down the excellent offerings to our top twelve, and rereading those a number of times to determine the winner and runners-up.

Each judge was impressed with the diversity, cleverness and pathos of the submissions. The shortlist was made up of stories that varied widely in style, tone and length, and we debated vigorously on the way to select the top three.

One of the strengths of the short story form is its ability to accommodate experimentation and risk while providing a satisfying reading experience; this strength also makes judging one story against another a difficult task. Some stories impressed with their fresh voice and vivid storytelling, others with their subtlety and poignancy, and still others with their ability to deal with difficult themes in a new and satisfying way.

Our unanimous choice as winner, ‘That inward eye’, is a joyous celebration of the inner life – observation, memory and a profound appreciation of beauty intertwined in a technically impressive single sentence of 585 words. It is a story that will reward multiple readings.


First place: ‘That inward eye’, by Leah Swann

Runner-up: ‘I thought maybe I could be a lounge singer’, by Lauren Aimee Curtis

Runner-up: ‘6pm Saturday night’, by Sally Breen

Paddy OReilly

Paddy O’Reilly has published three novels and two collections of short stories. Her latest collection is Peripheral Vision (UQP).

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