Unpublished Irish author longlisted for £30,000 prize for second time

P Kearney Byrne joins Joseph O’Neill, Molly McCloskey, Miranda July, Curtis Sittenfeld and Yiyun Li on Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award longlist

Longlisted: Phil Kearney Byrne and Joseph O’Neill

Longlisted: Phil Kearney Byrne and Joseph O’Neill


An unpublished Irish writer has been longlisted for the second time for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, which at £30,000 for the winner is the world’s richest and most prestigious prize for an English-language single short story.

Phil Kearney Byrne is originally from Dublin but she and her partner now live in Co Leitrim in a straw-bale eco-house on nine acres of land. A psychotherapist as well as a writer, her longlisted story Buck Mad is a frank and powerful account of a gay relationship told in two parts by the protagonists. She has won the Francis MacManus (2012), Bryan MacMahon (2014) and WOW (2016) Awards. In 2013 she was longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and was a finalist in the 2015 Hamlin Garland Award (Beloit Fiction Journal, USA). Kearney Byrne has an MA in Creative Writing from University College, Dublin and was awarded the John McGahern Award (2016) with a residency at Tyrone Guthrie Centre and an Irish Arts Council Emerging Writer Award (2017) to assist in the completion of a novel begun on the MA.

Kearney Byrne is joined on the longlist by Joseph O’Neill, the New York-based Irish author best known for the novel Netherland, and Irish-American writer Molly McCloskey, as well as such distinguished names as Miranda July and Curtis Sittenfeld and former winners Yiyun Li and Jonathan Tel. Other previous winners include Kevin Barry in 2012 and three Pulitzer prizewinners: Adam Johnson (2014), Junot Diaz (2013) and Anthony Doerr (2011).

O’Neill won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Prize for Fiction and 2009 Kerry Fiction Award for Netherland, which was longlisted for the man booker Prize. He has a new collection of short stories, Good Trouble, due out in June.

McCloskey was born in Philadelphia and grew up in North Carolina and Oregon.She moved to Ireland in 1989 and spent many years here before returning to Washington DC. Her works include the collections Solomon’s Seal and The Beautiful Changes, a memoir, Circles Around the Sun: In Search of a Lost Brother, and last year’s novel, When Light is Like Water.

Female and American writers are at the core of the 15-strong longlist, which includes ten women, nine American writers and four British authors.

In this, its ninth year, the longlist again reflects its reputation as an award that showcases outstanding new voices as well as more established literary authors; past discoveries have included Sally Rooney, whose debut novel Conversations with Friends was published in 2017 by Faber to immense critical acclaim, and Lisa McInerney, whose first novel The Glorious Heresies won the 2016 Bailey Women’s Prize for Fiction.

New British writers featured are Lisa Blower, Nicolas Burbidge and Naomi Booth, while more established names are represented by American Allegra Goodman, who is the author of five novels and two collections of short stories, US writer and filmmaker July, whose collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award; Sittenfeld, bestselling American author of Sisterland and whose longlisted story is contained in her new collection.

Writerr and broadcaster Mark Lawson, one of the judges, said: “In any literary judging process, it’s intriguing to note the recurrent themes, which tell us what is triggering creativity at a particular political or social moment. The dominant topics in this year’s selection were the Trump presidency, and the rise of artificial intelligence. Another fascination of this prize is that – as the entries are anonymised during the initial judging - some of the stories on these topics could, for all we knew, actually have been written by President Trump or a robot. Except that, in either case, they would not have been as original, witty or as emotionally involving as the long list has turned out to be.”

This year there were a record 810 eligible entries, the highest number yet, perhaps reflecting the surging popularity of the short story form this year; sales were up 40 per cent in 2017.

This year’s other judges are authors Tessa Hadley, Petina Gappah and Sebastian Faulks and Andrew Holgate, literary editor of he Sunday Times, completes the line-up. The shortlist will be announced on Sunday, March 18th, and the winner on April 26th.

The 15 longlisted writers and the titles of their short stories are:

ABDUL - Lisa Blower
BLACK DIAMOND - Judy Chicurel
BUCK MAD - P Kearney Byrne
CLUSTER - Naomi Booth
COOKING A WOLF - Nicolas Burbidge
DO-OVER - Curtis Sittenfeld
F.A.Q.S - Allegra Goodman
LIFE ON EARTH - Molly McCloskey
PEANUTS ARE NUTS - Courtney Zoffness
THE METAL BOWL - Miranda July

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