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Results of the 2015 Fish Short Story Prize

The ten stories chosen by judge Kevin Barry will be published in the 2016 Fish Anthology, which will be launched at the West Cork Literary Festival in July ‘16. We would like to thank Kevin for giving his time and expertise, judging the prize. His comments on the winning stories are with each title below.

Congratulations to the ten winners, their stories emerging from a field of 1,400.

The long and short lists will be published within the next day or two on the Fish website.

*The 2016 Fish Short Story Prize is now open for submissions. Judge is Neel Mukherjee. Closing 30 Nov. *

1st (The prize is €3,000, and a creative writing workshop with Claire Keegan at the West Cork Literary Festival).
Frogs; The City by Aengus Murray (Dublin, Ireland)

This is a story that mightn’t be for everyone but it was totally up my street. I was really sucked into its world – I found it utterly convincing. It’s a kind of a fable that leans in towards reality and then quickly pulls back from it again. It’s got a really lovely voice; it’s tone or note is very well got indeed. The story is as funny and sad as its memorable narrator. Like the best stories, its workings are mysterious – you don’t know how it all holds together, but it does.

2nd (The prize is €300 and a week’s residence at Anam Cara Writers Retreat).
When They Kissed They Really Kissed by The Man in the Black Pyjamas (Dublin, Ireland)

A really interesting structure, with some tremendous writing all the way through. There’s a real intensity to it. I’m not sure if the story benefits when its references to The Dead are brought above the surface – I don’t think it needs these to work on its own terms; or maybe they could be left submerged.  But this is a quibble against a very, very fine piece of work. A real writer is pulling the strings on this one.

3rd (The prize is €300)
Conceptual by Cait Atherton (UK)

This is very funny, and the voice is so very well done, but then it all builds up to something even funnier, and darker. And it’s very touching, too. It threw me – I should have twigged where it was going but I didn’t, at all. Great stuff.

Runners-up.
Circle City by Robert Grindy (Illinois, USA)

Tremendous comic energy and characterisation. Great on place and the detail seems to be very authentic. Maybe there’s a tendency to tell a little more than show but it’s a terrific story.

Clair de Lune by Susan Bennett (Australia)

The writing wears its finery unashamedly. It’s very sensitive to time, place, mores. It tells a good old-fashioned story.

To Woo by Anthony Dew (York, England)

I really like our odd little narrator friend. The story is funny and strange and it keeps the reader guessing. And I very much like the nutty ending.

Nashville by Judith Turner-Yamamoto (Cincinatti, Ohio, USA)

A very well-made story, and it’s full of real feeling, with a wealth of harsh nostalgia. It captures precisely the moment in a young life when all seems lost but all may yet be there to play for.

Me And Mr Tinkles by Thomas Atkinson (Ohio, USA)

This is a story that builds very powerfully, line by line, and then builds some more. I think it’s conceivably one draft short of where it should be but it has a real effect on the reader, and the ending is tremendous.

Jokes in Lemon Juice by Lezanne Clanachan (West Sussex, UK, via Denmark)

There is some very nice and unexpected detail in this. The story carries real emotion and a kind of strangeness, too, which I found oddly moving. 

The Sun And The Moon Were Out by Annette Trevitt (Victoria, Australia)

A tangled web of a story, again with great detail all along the way.  It keeps the thumb moving through the pages, and the style is very fine.

Fish Books

Fish Anthology 2017

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Dead Souls has the magic surplus of meaning that characterises fine examples of the form – Neel Mukherjee
I was looking for terrific writing of course – something Fish attracts in spades, and I was richly rewarded right across the spectrum – Vanessa Gebbie
Really excellent – skilfully woven – Chris Stewart
Remarkable – Jo Shapcott


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The practitioners of the art of brevity and super-brevity whose work is in this book have mastered the skills and distilled and double-distilled their work like the finest whiskey.


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Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco

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€12  (incl. p&p)   Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco Read Irish Times review by Claire Looby Surreal, sad, zany, funny, Tina Pisco’s stories are drawn from gritty experience as much as the swirling clouds of the imagination.  An astute, empathetic, sometimes savage observer, she brings her characters to life. They dance themselves onto the pages, […]


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Fish Anthology 2015

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How do we transform personal experience of pain into literature? How do we create and then chisel away at those images of others, of loss, of suffering, of unspeakable helplessness so that they become works of art that aim for a shared humanity? The pieces selected here seem to prompt all these questions and the best of them offer some great answers.
– Carmen Bugan.


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Fish Anthology 2014

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What a high standard all round – of craft, imagination and originality: and what a wide range of feeling and vision.
Ruth Padel

I was struck by how funny many of the stories are, several of them joyously so – they are madcap and eccentric and great fun. Others – despite restrained and elegant prose – managed to be devastating. All of them are the work of writers with talent.
Claire Kilroy


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Fish Anthology 2013

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The writing comes first, the bottom line comes last. And sandwiched between is an eye for the innovative, the inventive and the extraordinary.


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Fish Anthology 2012

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Fish Anthology 2011

Reading the one page stories I was a little dazzled, and disappointed that I couldn’t give the prize to everybody. It’s such a tight format, every word must count, every punctuation mark. ‘The Long Wet Grass’ is a masterly bit of story telling … I still can’t get it out of my mind.
– Chris Stewart


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Fish Anthology 2010

The perfectly achieved story transcends the limitations of space with profundity and insight. What I look for in fiction, of whatever length, is authenticity and intensity of feeling. I demand to be moved, to be transported, to be introduced into other lives. The stories I have selected for this anthology have managed this. – Ronan Bennett, Short Story Judge.


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Fish Anthology 2009 – Ten Pint Ted

I sing those who are published here – they have done a very fine job. It is difficult to create from dust, which is what writers do. It is an honour to have read your work. – Colum McCann


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Fish Anthology 2008 – Harlem River Blues

The entries into this year’s Fish Short Story Prize were universally strong. From these the judges have selected winners, we believe, of exceptional virtue. – Carlo Gebler


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Fish Anthology 2007

I was amazed and delighted at the range and quality of these stories. Every one of them was interesting, well-written, beautifully crafted and, as a short-story must, every one of them focused my attention on that very curtailed tableau which a short-story necessarily sets before us. – Michael Collins


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Fish Anthology 2006 – Grandmother, Girl, Wolf and Other Stories

These stories voice all that is vibrant about the form. – Gerard Donovan. Very short stories pack a poetic punch. Each of these holds its own surprise, or two. Dive into these seemingly small worlds. You’ll come up anew. – Angela Jane Fountas


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– Michel Faber


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Fish Anthology 2005 – The Mountains of Mars and Other Stories

Literary anthologies, especially of new work, act as a kind of indicator to a society’s concerns. This Short Story collection, such a sharp and useful enterprise, goes beyond that. Its internationality demonstrates how our concerns are held in common across the globe. – Frank Delaney


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From the daily routine of a career in ‘Spoonface’, to the powerful, recurring image of a freezer in ‘Shadow Lives’. It was the remarkable focus on the ordinary that made these Fish short stories such a pleasure to read. – Hugo Hamilton


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In a world where twenty screens of bullshit seem to be revolving without respite … there is nothing that can surpass the ‘explosion of art’ and its obstinate insistence on making sense of things. These dedicated scribes, as though some secret society, heroically, humbly, are espousing a noble cause.
– Pat McCabe


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It’s supposed to be a short form, the good story, but it has about it a largeness I love. There is something to admire in all these tales, these strange, insistent invention. They take place in a rich and satisfying mixture of places, countries of the mind and heart. – Christopher Hope


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Asylum 1928

There are fine stories in this new anthology, some small and intimate, some reaching out through the personal for a wider, more universal perspective, wishing to tell a story – grand, simple, complex or everyday, wishing to engage you the reader. – Kate O’Riodan


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I feel like issuing a health warning with this Fish Anthology ­ these stories may seriously damage your outlook – Here the writers view the world in their unique way, and have the imagination, talent, and the courage to refine it into that most surprising of all art forms ­ the short story. – Clem Cairns.


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Every story in this book makes its own original way in the world. knowing which are the telling moments, and showing them to us. And as the narrator of the winning story casually remarks, ‘Sometimes its the small things that amaze me’ – Molly McCloskey


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The stories here possess the difference, the quirkiness and the spark. They follow their own road and their own ideas their own way. It is a valuable quality which makes this collection a varied one. Read it, I hope you say to yourself like I did on many occasions, ‘That’s deadly. How did they think of that?’ – Eamonn Sweeney


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Dog Day

Really good short stories like these, don’t read like they were written. They read like they simply grew on the page. – Joseph O’Connor


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The Stranger

The writers in this collection can write short stories . . . their quality is the only thing they have in common. – Roddy Doyle


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This is the first volume of short stories from Ireland’s newest publishing house. We are proud that fish has enabled 15 budding new writers be published in this anthology, and I look forward to seeing many of them in print again.


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A love story, thriller and historical novel; funny and sad, uplifting and enlightening.


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You only know who you can’t trust. You can’t trust the law, because there’s none in New Ireland. You can’t trust the Church, because they think they’re the law. And you can’t trust the State, because they think they’re the Church And most of all, you can’t trust your friends, because you can’t remember who they were anymore.


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