Jessie Greengrass has won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2016 for her debut collection, taking home the £10,000 main prize.
An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk According to One Who Saw It (JM Originals) includes 12 stories about those who are lonely, estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect but also of penance.
Receiving her award last night (Tuesday 5th July) at Waterstones Piccadilly, Greengrass said she was "grateful and overwhelmed" by the announcement.
“I am so excited and very shocked to be named the winner of this years’ Edge Hill Short Story Prize," Greengrass said. "Just to be shortlisted and recognised alongside this list of incredible writers that also deserve recognition for their works, is by far the greatest achievement of my career. Finding the ideas and translating them at my computer can be difficult, but winning the Prize and knowing that there is an audience who enjoy these ideas and words makes this much easier to keep doing every day."
This year’s judging panel included winner of the 2015 prize, Kirsty Gunn; Cathy Galvin, founder and director of The Word Factory; and Edge Hill University creative writing lecturer, Billy Cowan.
Ailsa Cox, Edge Hill Prize founder and professor of short fiction at Edge Hill University congratulated Greengrass on being named the 2016 recipient. She said: "Amongst these masters of the form, Greengrass stands out as a fresh and wholly original talent. She is a writer of the mind, exploring dangerous territory with spare elegance. She breaks all the rules, writing with great subtlety about the human condition and the fragility of nature.
“The short story is fiction in its purest form. The proof is in this year's shortlist and in the diversity of writers the prize has celebrated over the last decade."
She added: “Ten years ago we spoke about the short story as an endangered species, not unlike the Great Auk in Greengrass's collection. But unlike the Great Auk, the short story has become more visible than ever. Congratulations to Jessie for continuing its great tradition."
As well as the Main Literary Award of £10,000 won by Greengrass, a £1,000 Reader’s Choice award was presented to China Mieville whose collection Three Moments of an Explosion (Pan Macmillan), features 28 stories that suggest the world is not just strange, but stranger than we can ever really comprehend.
The winner of an additional category worth £500 acknowledging rising talents on Edge Hill University’s own MA creative writing course was Adam Hampton for his story 'Glass'.