Monday musings on Australian literature: Short story awards

You all know by now that I really enjoy short stories. I have not, though, paid much attention here to short story awards, partly because, despite a few recent posts on awards, awards are not a major focus on my blog. However, I was down at New South Wales’ beautiful south coast a few weekends ago and, as I like to do, picked up the local rag, The Triangle to check out the local scene. In it I read about the establishment of a new award, the Olga Masters Short Story Award.

Olga Masters (1919-1986) was one of the leading lights in the wonderful flourishing of women’s writing that occurred here in the 1980s-1990s. Being one of our late-bloomers, she died too early in her fiction writing career, but not before she received critical acclaim for both her novels and her short stories. She was born in Pambula, on the south coast, so it’s fitting that this award has been established in that region. It has prompted me to do a little post on short story awards, albeit a highly selective post because over the years I’ve become aware of a plethora of short story awards. It’s great to see such support of this rather undervalued form of writing, but it would be impossible in the time I have to track them all down. So, as in my other posts on specialised awards, I’ll just focus on a few.

  • ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Established in 2010. Awarded to a single-authored, not previously-pulbished story of between 2000 and words. As of 2014, there is no nationality requirement but the story must be in English. Offers $8000, though first prize seems to be $5000. The inaugural winner was Maria Takolander, whose book The double is currently on my TBR.
  • The Age Short Story Award. Established in 1979 and currently run in conjunction with International PEN. Awarded to a previously unpublished short story of under 3000 words. Offers cash prizes of $2000, $1000 and $500 and publication in The Age for the top three stories.
  • Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction. Established in 1995, and covers both novels and short stories. Awarded to short stories by Australian writers in several categories: Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, and Young Adult. Awarded to published works by an Australian author. This is an excellent example of a well-regarded set of awards in genre fiction.
  • Margaret River Short Story Competition. Established in 2011/12 by the the small family press, Margaret River Press. Offers several prizes, and all winners together with a number of other stories selected from the competition, are published in an annual anthology. Last year I reviewed the 2013 anthology, Knitting, and other stories.
  • Olga Masters Short Story Award. Established in 2014 by south coast residents, a local benefactor and Well thumbed Books. Awarded for “the best 2000-5000 word short story dealing with aspects of family life in rural Australia” written by an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Offers $1500 to the winner aged over 21 years old, and $500 encouragement award to the best story by a writer under 21.
  • The Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers. Established in 2012 by Overland magazine and Victoria University. Designed to encourage and support new writing. Offers a first prize of $6000 and two runners-up prizes of $1000, and I believe publication in Overland.

These are just a few of the Australian awards on offer for short stories, but there are many more, not only in Australia but also overseas which writers can enter.

16 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Short story awards

  1. I’m pleased you have written here on Olga MASTERS. She visited a Community evening AMES cultural & literary class I was teaching back in late 1984 at Cleveland Street. She spoke about her life – her writing (arising before dawn – a time of silence – watching the sun rise over the Pacific from her Manly home – before she looked after her family – grandchildren included – getting them off to school/work) and she read to us one of her stories from her book: The Home Girls. In the same year around the same time – having received an invitation from her – I attended the launch of her book: Loving Daughters. All her other books and Julie LEWIS’ fine biography too are on my shelves.

    • Thanks Jim … She was a great writer … I particularly loved Loving daughters. It had a Jane Austen edge to it in its social commentary on the marriage market. She died too young didn’t she?

  2. Good to see encouragement given to ‘new and emerging’ short story writers and particularly good to see Olga Masters memorialised in this way, especially so many years after her death.

  3. Thanks for this post, especially timely as the Elizabeth Jolley is about to close for this year. I was wondering if you could give me a contact for the Olga Masters Short Story Award? So glad to see her work being honoured in this way. Sarah.

  4. You’re doing the less-than-accepted-into-the-literary-community writers a great favour with these posts about awards, Sue: personally, I thank you very much !!!!

  5. Pingback: ‘Too Much Happiness’ by Alice Munro | The Resident Judge of Port Phillip

  6. I loved Olga Masters’ work and yes she died far too young! This award sounds like a good way of bringing back her writing.

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