Foreword by Michael Collins. When Fish invited me to be a judge on their annual Fish Short Story Prize competition, I agreed with a sense of foreboding. This was a wholly new facet of the wild and woolly business which is writing and publishing and earning a living through word-craft. As a professional writer it can be difficult enough to see the course and plot of a story, to plan and manage the complex structures, the inter-relationship of character and language and emotion. What, I wondered, could one expect from such a strange and varied source as the international family of writers which make up what must surely be the largest writing group in the world, the Fish Authors? Fish has well over 12,000 registered Authors (Apparently!), a huge rainbow of writers from all over the world; of different ages, backgrounds, psychologies and interests; each one, I suspect, driven by that consistent itch that all writers feel, the need to write. Painters paint because they can, but writers write because they must, and it has been fascinating to see the wide range of ideas and approaches that arose in the short-list for the Fish Short Story Prize, from all those Fish Authors scratching their own personal itch. As a short-story writer myself, I understand exactly how tough it can be to create a powerful and convincing jewel of a story in just a few thousand words. I was amazed and delighted by the range and quality of the stories I read. 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. The judging for the Fish Short Story Prize is completely blind. All we get is a story and a reference number. We know nothing of the Author. We don’t know: Who they are. Where they are from. What they have done in their lives. Not even their sex! Only their story tells their tale. I was delighted therefore to learn that the winning Author (Number 1397!) was my Irish kinswoman Kathleen Murray, from Dublin . My fellow judges agreed pretty much unanimously that this little gem was the very best from a very good bunch. I am not going to distract you from reading it by telling you why this one rose to the top of our minds, but it is a unique idea beautifully handled and a complex concept laid out with utter simplicity of tone and voice. I strongly commend it to you. That is not in any way to detract from the rest of the Fish Short Story Prize winners. I loved Lane Ashfeldt’s Dancing on Canvey (No 112), and its wonderful Sound Sculptures and creative dyslexias. It nearly won the main prize, and it did win the Short Histories Prize, so it has to be very good. The rest too are absolutely fascinating in their own ways. Vanessa Gebbie’s Words From a Glass Bubble (No. 821) is very, very Irish – the tale of a bereft mother and a talking Virgin Mary in a snow-globe – though Vanessa, it appears, is from Sussex ! The two excellent stories I read from The Fish-Knife Award, Gilt and Honeysuckle and Cat’s Piss are about as different as two stories can be, and I can absolutely see why the Fish-Knife judges decided they couldn’t split them. Rush of Water by Merryn Glover, tells the sad tale of a Nepali girl, Phulmati, and is one of a series of stories in the Anthology, remarked upon by my fellow judge, Fiona Kidman, which together comprise something which takes us through almost every stage of a young girl’s coming of age. As you read through the anthology you will see this theme repeated several times. Talking with the third judge, Fish Managing Editor – Clem Cairns, he told me that there is almost always a theme amongst the winning stories, something he discussed in the Foreword to last year’s Anthology. This year that theme was definitely “coming of age.” I have not yet read the Anthology in its entirety. I have not yet read even one of the One-page stories, but I am very much looking forward to seeing how all the stories I have read fit in with the huge variety of material in this book. I will be at the Award Ceremony and I look forward also to meeting all those Fish Authors who have helped to create what must surely be a unique experience for them, and which has certainly been a unique, and uniquely challenging, experience for me. Fish have thanked me many times for agreeing to be one of their judges. I would like to thank them for providing me with a totally new viewpoint from which I can observe my own craft. Enlightenment comes in many strange and unexpected disguises . Michael Collins Bellingham WA . May 2007
A Paper Heart Is Beating, A Paper Boat Sets Sail – Kathleen Murray Dancing on Canvey – Lane Ashfeldt A Villain’s Tale – Keith Souter Gilt – Orlaith O’Sullivan Honeysuckle and Cat’s Piss – Ewan Gault The Island Grows On Me – Tim Lenton Skaters – Patricia Middleton Words From A Glass Bubble – Vanessa Gebbie Rush of Water – Merryn Glover That Sweet May Morning – Zöe Sinclair A Journey To The Sun – Jo Campbell Luz – Martin H. Bott On The Concourse – Al Lee Wyer The Nucker Hole – Stuart Tallack Always Read The Label – Antonia Fenton Waking the Princess – Carys Davies Rookie Of The Year – Paul Byall Where – Debra Shulkes Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly – Linda Evans Knoxville , 1899 – Jessie J. Ellis Insignificant Gestures – Jo Cannon A Goose Of A Swan – Margaret Mulvihill Helena J. Ginsburg (1980 – 2007) – Julie Koh Caye Caulker Tides – Marc Phillips The Morning We Started to Leave – Kimball Ann Richards Everywhere Was Water Once – Wayne Price Body Beautiful – Claire Anderson-Wheeler The Medical Glance – Leslie Patterson Calling Fruits and Vegetables – Richard Holeton Philosophy – Nancy Burke Man In Ultramarine Pajamas – Lily Mabura Air Cowboys – Polly Nelson Two Brothers – Vicky Grut The Caravan – Janey Runci Shapes – Rosemarie Rose Cerulean – Stuart Tallack A Festive Holiday Photo – Susan Keith
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.More
€12 (incl. p&p) Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco 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, and waltz around your mind long after […]More
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.
What a high standard all round – of craft, imagination and originality: and what a wide range of feeling and vision.
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.
The writing comes first, the bottom line comes last. And sandwiched between is an eye for the innovative, the inventive and the extraordinary.More
A new collection from around the globe: innovative, exciting, invigorating work from the writers and poets who will be making waves for some time to come. David Mitchell, Michael Collins, David Shields and Billy Collins selected the stories, flash fiction, memoirs and poems in this anthology.More
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
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.More
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 McCannMore
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 GeblerMore
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 CollinsMore
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 FountasMore
Each of the pieces here has been chosen for its excellence. They are a delightfully varied assortment. More than usual for an anthology, this is a compendium of all the different ways that fiction can succeed. I invite you to turn to ‘All the King’s Horses’. The past is here. Begin.
– Michel Faber
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 DelaneyMore
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 HamiltonMore
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
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 HopeMore
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’RiodanMore
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.More
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 McCloskeyMore
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 SweeneyMore
Really good short stories like these, don’t read like they were written. They read like they simply grew on the page. – Joseph O’ConnorMore
The writers in this collection can write short stories . . . their quality is the only thing they have in common. – Roddy DoyleMore
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.More
12 Miles Out was selected by David Mitchell as the winner of the Fish Unpublished Novel Award.
A love story, thriller and historical novel; funny and sad, uplifting and enlightening.
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.More
A memoir of urban life, chronicled through its central character, Mackey. From momentary reflections to stories about his break with childhood and adolescence, the early introduction to the Big World, the discovery of romance and then love, the powerlessness of ordinary people, the weaknesses that end in disappointment and the strengths that help them seek redemption and belonging.More
Ian Wild’s stories mix Monty Python with Hammer Horror, and the Beatles with Shakespeare, but his anarchic style and sense of humour remain very much his own in this collection of tall tales from another planet. Where else would you find vengeful organs, the inside story of Eleanor Rigby, mobile moustaches, and Vikings looting a Cork City branch of Abracababra?More