Judges Notes for Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize 2020

Of the many stories we read, ‘The Case of G: A Child Raised by Trains’ was easily one of the most original takes on the travel theme. Framed as an article for an academic journal, Dearborn’s story follows the case of an impoverished child found living among trains. One of those trains in fact—the 6.55 am from Greenhill Station—the young girl has taken to calling ‘ma’. Originality of concept and an experimental approach to form are one thing. But where this story succeeds is its execution of such an ambitious premise. The faux academic style lends the work a believability it might otherwise lack, as does the sprinkling of perfect details. Dearborn also handles the idea with a wonderful mix of humour and pathos. A very worthy winner of the 2020 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.

Six Facts About Monarchs’ is a beautifully rendered account of a teenager who is preparing for a journey, while thinking of what has gone before. ‘Six Facts About Monarchs’ is a compelling and ultimately, powerful, story, with careful attention to detail and elegant, beautiful prose. Nicholas Duddy has written an emotionally powerful portrait of love and loss that is sure to move the reader.

Crossroads’ is a thoughtfully rendered story set on a Greyhound bus leaving a metropolis heading into the interior of the Country. The plot revolves around two adolescents who meet and strike up a rapport while travelling across country. Told through sparse prose and economy of words and character, ‘Crossroads’ builds to a tense uneasy conclusion that makes a sharp, poignant, and timely comment on bigotry, prejudice, and privilege in contemporary settler Australia.



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Jeanine Leane

Jeanine Leane belongs to the Wiradjuri people from the Murrumbidgee river. She is a poet, teacher, author and essayist who is well published in the areas of Aboriginal writing, writing difference and literary criticism.

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Mirandi Riwoe

Mirandi Riwoe is the author of the novella The Fish Girl, which won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Queensland Literary Award’s UQ Fiction Prize, and Stone Sky Gold Mountain, which won the 2020 Queensland Literary Award – Fiction Book Award and the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize and was shortlisted for the 2021 Stella Prize, and longlisted for The 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review and Best Summer Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies and lives in Brisbane.

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Wayne Marshall

Wayne Marshall is an Australian writer and musician. Stories of his have appeared in Going Down Swinging, Island, Review of Australian Fiction, and other places. He is the co-founder of the Peter Carey Short Story Award, and lives in the town of Bacchus Marsh with his partner.

and two daughters.

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