"Backburn" by Ríona Judge McCormack has won the inaugural Galley Beggar Press short story prize.
Published as part of the Galley Beggar Singles Club, a subscription service that delivers users one short story a month, "Backburn" is a drama about an encroaching bush fire and the community that are pulled together to fight it.
Judge McCormack wins the prize of either £500 cash or a year of editorial support from the directors of Galley Beggar Press, Eloise Millar and Sam Jordison.
Jordison, who also helped judged the prize, said: “One of the great things about this story is that – as far as we’re concerned – it’s come from nowhere. And also that it isn’t just a fine work of art in and of itself, it’s the announcement of a new talent. Ríona is a writer who can immerse you in a scene; she allows you to walk side-by-side with her characters, helps you enter their thoughts, she makes you feel their world. Her writing is vivid, sharp and particular. It is evocative, it’s real – and it packs a correspondingly heavy punch. It’s a lesson in controlled anger, rage set on simmer and, as the title suggests, fire.”
Jordison added: “Yet, while 'Backburn' is a wonderful story, the really exciting thing is what happens next. It’s a delight to be here, at the beginning of a career. One we hope and assume will be exciting and prize-packed.”
Judge McCormack is an Irish writer who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The shortlist also included stories "You Must Forget" by Jessica Greenman, "Feathered Friends" by Rowena Macdonald and "Daughters of the Revolution" by Jarred McGinnis.
Like McCormack, the shortlisted and longlisted authors will have their work published as part of the Galley Beggar Singles Club, which releases a new short story every month for readers.
On 10th March, they will also be invited to attend a celebratory event at Waterstones Piccadiilly in London, and read from their work.