This year, the Nakata Brophy competition focused on the short story. Notes from the judges – author Tara June Winch, Trinity College’s Katherine Firth, and Overland fiction editor Jennifer Mills – are below, followed by the entry that placed first in this year’s competition, Evelyn Araluen’s ‘Muyum: a transgression’.
The two runner-up stories, Amy McGuire’s ‘Tea and dying’ and Allanah Hunt’s ‘Invisibility isn’t only a power superheroes have’, are available to read at overland.org.au.
Muyum: a transgression – Evelyn Araluen
An extraordinary piece of writing from the first line to the last, this story really stood out for the judges. The hyper-lyrical, dreamy quality is thoroughly immersive, giving a sense of the inner life in a way that’s reminiscent of Eimear McBride. Some of the lines send shivers down the spine: the narrator’s ‘mouth full of ghosts’, the library that is ‘heap and broken image’. It is no surprise to us to learn that the author is also an accomplished poet who was a runner-up in the poetry section of the Nakata Brophy Prize last year. ‘Muyum: a transgression’ is a mysterious story with a living voice, one that will linger; we think it would make an excellent piece for radio.
Invisibility isn’t only a power superheroes have – Allanah Hunt
What begins as a story of young and apparently carefree friends on the cusp of adulthood ends with a reminder of the way their lives are mediated by structures beyond their control. The story’s descriptive quality and quiet menace impressed us, and its engaging dialogue kept us wanting to read more.
Tea and dying – Amy McGuire
A thoughtful, playful story that deals with the theme of mortality, building an intimate picture of a family piece by piece, introducing the reader to their circumstances with telling details. We felt this story well composed in terms of prose and imagery – here’s a writer able to navigate a spectrum of emotion between comedy and tragedy with lightness and ease.
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