Costa has lifted the anonymity of its three finalists shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award following the close of the public vote. Authors Billy O’Callaghan, Rob Ewing and Jess Kidd, all of whom are debut novelists, were revealed to be in competition for the award for their respective short stories, "The Boatman", "The Persistence of Memory" and "Dirty Little Fishes".
Established in 2012, the award, run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system, is judged anonymously (without the name of the author being known throughout the process). It is open to both published and unpublished writers, aged 18 and over, for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words, written in English.
Two of the shortlisted authors published their debut novels in the last year: Ewing, who lives and works in Edinburgh, published his debut novel The Last of Us (Borough Press) in April, while his short stories have been performed on BBC Radio Scotland as a winner of their Cover Stories competition and his poetry has been shortlisted for the William Soutar Writing Prize. Kidd, who teaches creative writing, with aspirations to teach writing in the prison service, published her first novel, Himself (Canongate) in October; it was subsequently shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 2016.
O’Callaghan, from Cork, Ireland - who is also the author of three short story collections, In Exile (2008), In Too Deep (2009, both Mercier Press) and The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind (2013, New Island Books) - is meanwhile due to publish his first novel, The Dead House, with O'Brien Press/Brandon Books in May 2017.
The shortlist of three stories was selected by a panel of judges comprising Sarah Franklin, founder of Short Stories Aloud and senior lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes University; Radio 2 Book Club producer Joe Haddow; author Adele Parks; Simon Trewin, agent at William Morris Endeavor; and author Kit de Waal, herself a finalist for the award in 2013, and whose first novel, My Name Is Leon (Penguin), was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa First Novel Award.
The author of the story that received the most public votes will be announced as winner and receive £3,500 at the Costa Book Awards ceremony which takes place on Tuesday 31st January, with second place receiving £1,000 and third place £500.
For the first time this year, the judges also had the option to select up to six additional entries as Highly Commended. The judges chose the following four stories: "Mechanical Bees" by Nadia Morris, "To Memorise a Skylark" by Niamh McCabe, "You Hearing Me, Perdi Jackson?" by Shauna MacKay and "Relatives of the Deceased" by Julie Hayman.
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