This year’s Story Wine Prize submissions yielded a superb collection of hotly contested favourites and we judges were blessed with an exciting long- and shortlist. For us, the best of these stories honed in on a moment, relationship, mood or event with precision and attention to the finest evocative detail, some managing to also traverse deep issues and spans of time – and all in fewer than 800 words.
The broad stroke was particularly strong in the shortlisted stories ‘I am Ali’, by Clint Caward, and ‘417-BVB-820’, by Lauren Foley. We loved the humour of Ruth Wyer’s ‘The dinner party’ and Laura Kenny’s ‘The authentic life of Laura Kenny’, and the joyous celebration of Kerry Reed-Gilbert’s ‘The Cultural Prophet’.
Ultimately, what impressed was resonance of story, clarity of intent and command of language. The winner, Melissa Manning’s ‘Woodsmoke’, is a stunning story. Perfectly constructed and executed, its 485 words are ripe with melancholy, intrigue and transgression. Runner-up ‘First Fish’, by Zoë Meager, is a beautiful and subtle study of place and identity, while Melanie Pryor’s ‘Salt Skin’ is seductive and poetic, a story from the sea that is full of fire.
‘Woodsmoke’ has won $4000 and publication on the label of a 2016 Story Wine shiraz. ‘First fish’ and ‘Salt skin’ will each receive $500 and be published on 2015 Story Wine bottles, and at overland.org.au