2016/2017 short story prize achive


Marlene or Number 16 by Yelena Moskovish has won the 2016/2017 Galley Beggar Short Story Prize. 

We're proud and happy to say so. This is a tremendous work by a talented writer. You can judge for yourself by buying a £1 copy  here:
(Singles Club subscribers will be sent a copy later today.)
We're keeping our powder dry because Yelena going to be the subject of a Bookseller profile very soon... so I shan't say too much more about the story for now, beyond the fact that while it was hard saying no to the other wonderful stories on our longlist and shortlist, it was a great joy to see this one win. Our judges Sarah Crown, Alex Pheby, Chris Power, Eloise Millar and myself were all certain that Yelena Moskovich had written something very special indeed. 

Talking of those judges, it's my pleasurable duty to thank all of my fellows. They have been astute, good-humoured, and just-argumentative-enough. They gave a lot of time to the judging process, read each story with dedication and care - and we owe them a great deal of thanks. 
Thank you too, to everyone who entered the competition. As I keep saying, Elly and I have been bowled over by the quality and quantity of the entrants. We're certain that many of those who entered this year will be able to produce even better work in the future. We know we saw a lot of writers who are going to go on to great things. And we're looking forward to hearing from you again. It's been a wonderful and reassuring experience. 
We're also happy to announce that we will be holding a prize event with readings, Q&A and liquid celebrations at the Greenwich Literary Festival on 27 May 2018 (with huge thanks to Patricia Nichol and the festival organisers for hosting us). The event will also coincide with the launch of the 2017/18 Prize opening for submissions. 
That's right. We're getting ready to roll again. And if the next competition is anything like as good as this year, it's going to be a blast.
Thanks again - and well done Yelena Moskovich. You wrote a damn fine story. 
The shortlist stage

We're delighted to say that the following five stories have reached the final round of our short story competition:

Amber Higgins, Little Moon

Paul Jones, Patterdale

Malachi McIntosh, Limbs

Yelena Moskovich, Marlene or Number 16

Tom Spencer, gnomechomsky

Well done to all those writers. (And well done too to everyone on our longlist. It wasn't easy whittling things down. All the stories were very good - and everyone had done damn well. Better luck next year!)

And here's what our judges say:

Sarah Crown on Patterdale:

In Patterdale, told in the clattering, clamorous voice of a young boy in foster care, Paul Jones uses stream-of-consciousness to devastating effect; fitting form and subject together to produce a narrative that is both technically impressive and deeply moving. I loved it.
Chris Power on Little Moon:
Little Moon is a story with a big heart. So big, in fact, that initially it obscures just how smart a story it is, too. Avery is a vividly drawn character: a girl on the cusp of womanhood trying to navigate some difficult, even treacherous, emotional waters. Amber Higgins sets up a powerful binary between Avery and her taciturn father, and adds two satellites on each side: Micah, a millennial Thoreau camping out in the woods, and Jennica the earth mother. The real tension and pleasure of the story lies in watching these characters circle one another, as secrets are revealed and consequences play out. Special mention must also be made of Higgins’s descriptive writing, which for me is some of the best in the competition.  
Alex Pheby on Marlene: 
A brilliant snapshot of place, time and psyche, scarcely a word wasted, with a brutal realism that manages to remain emotionally affecting. 

Eloise Millar on gnomechomsky:

gnomechomsky is a funny, creative and dark exploration of how someone can be a loving family man one minute, a vicious internet troll the next. It's a lesson in the art of human (un)reasoning; of how, under certain circumstances, we are all capable of justifying and defending the most indefensible actions... With a narrative voice that never falters; with a protagonist who is all too believable - and with Donald Trump looming large on all of our horizons - gnomechomsky hits hard. It's a parable for our times. 

Sam Jordison on Limbs:

Limbs is a wonderful story. It's impressive as much for what doesn't happen as for what does happen. Right from the start you're made to plead with the narrator to get real and do *something* about the huge and horrible thing that has jsut come into his home. His choice to just get on with normal life intead is bewildering and extraordinary - but the real clever trick this author pulls off is also to make his readers fascinated and amused and caught up in that so-called normal life too. It's clever, funny and beautifully poised. 


It's been a great year. For stories. 

The longlist announcement

It's been some year. Deciding which stories should make it has been a long, painful process. If you aren't on our lists, don't despair. There were many, many fine stories that almost made it. And it was a blast reading them. We had over seven hundred submissions this year, with stories covering everything from marital disfunction to shape-shifting to drug-addled road trips. We saw fantasy, sci-fi, heartbreaking realism, absurd comedy, furious politics...

Like last year, the number of stories told in second person was surprising. Perhaps less surprisingly, there was a marked increase in End Time narratives and post-apocalyptic settings. Refugees made appearances. So did diasporas.

From noisy, big-band stories - rich in drama, uproar, or twisted imaginings - to quieter pieces, the overall quality of work was again exceptional. All of the stories were read with keen interest. Getting the number down even to 200 was hard. And after that, to 80, and then 45, then 20, on to the final 13... As one of our judges commented, it was a reminder of just how simultaneously inspiring and miserable judging and the selection process can be...


One of the agonies was that there were many stories bursting with talent that didn't make it through thanks to issues with editorial - things such as overly-long endings, or one aspect or another that wasn't quite gelling... We have to judge the stories as finished works - and what this has meant is that some remarkable writing has fallen by the way side. (But we will be emailing a few of you soon to have further discussions and maybe run stories in our Singles Club, so all is not lost...)


But that's enough pain. What about our final thirteen? They take in strange supermarkets, ominus parcels, school plays, internet trolls, love, loss, hate, fear, animals, children. Some showcase straight, high quality, storytelling. Some are radical and unusual. All of them are excellent.

The bit about us

Also, on another happy note, this prize is a big part of our publishing year.  First and foremost, because it's invigorating: Reading the stories is wonderful. We find many new - and varied - writers through the prize, some of whom we've gone on to work with. One of the novels we're releasing this year comes from a one of last year's longlisted writers, and we have a long-term project we're hoping to realise with another. Others will be published before too long in our Singles Club.

It's also a great way to showcase some new talent - and help writers get noticed. We got a lot of interest from agents and editors last year - and were really pleased to help writers get representation. We're hoping the coverage by the Bookseller of the winning author this year should only further help with this...

And, of course, the prize matters to us financially. Of the 750 submission entries, a healthy amount of the fees go towards admin, various design costs and paying the judges (except Sam and Elly, who don't get paid!). The rest is dedicated solely towards publication costs of the kind of authors we support: those with huge talent and literary ambition, who might not otherwise (in an environment with huge commercial pressures) see themselves published. So by submitting to the prize, you are supporting your fellow authors - and us. THANK YOU. 

And extra gratitude and kudos to the following talents. First, we are proud to present our longlist, in alphabetical order, by author surname:

Gordon Collins, War In A Babylon

Hilary Dean, Resurrection

Amber Higgins, Little Moon

Paul Jones, Patterdale

Fiona J. Mackintosh, Interstate

Malachi McIntosh, Limbs

Linda McVeigh, Back Seat

Yelena Moskovich, Marlene or Number 16

Tom Perrin, Gnomechomsky

Henrietta Rose-Innes, The Second Law

Richard Smyth, Something Was Being Broken

T. Schroeder, And Our Land And Will Yield Its Harvest

Joanna Walsh, Hasard Objectif


And special mentions also go to:

Ghillie's Mum – Lynda Clark

No Thief - Carol Farrelly

Coffee And Jazz – Neil Griffiths

Happiness – Kit Maude

Sweatshop – Alexandra Mendelsohn

Scrubber - Valerie O’Riordan

The Furnace Throne - Friðrik Sólnes Jónsson

Dead Yard – Maria Thomas

Don't Ever Bring Me Fish - Clare Weze


We're so pleased!


Call for submissions


How to enter

To enter the award, there are two simple steps:

  1. Attach your story, together with a covering page detailing your name, contact details, and the title of the work, using the widget beneath these notes, at the bottom of the page.
  2. Hit 'add to cart' and your submission will then be added to the Galley Beggar Store shopping basket. Go to that basket and pay the £10 fee using Paypal.

We encourage online submissions. Those who need to post their submissions should first email info@galleybeggar.co.uk.

(Galley Beggar Press are offering 25 free entries to writers on a low income, who would not otherwise be able to afford to enter the prize. These entries will be offered on a first come, first serve basis, and at the discretion of the directors. If you are eligible for one of these entries, please in the first instance contact: elly@galleybeggar.co.uk)

Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize, 2016/2017

Our short story competition is back! Hundreds of stories were sent to us in our wonderfully successful first year (2015/2016), and we're hoping for even more this time around. It was just a great way to spot new talent, engage with new writers - and a fine way to introduce readers to new voices, too. 

This year, we have a new set of judges. We're proud to say that Sarah Crown, Alex Pheby and Chris Power will be joining Eloise Millar and Sam Jordison from Galley Beggar HQ. 

We're raising the prize money to £1000  - and we're keeping the alternative prize of year-long editorial support, which is what our 2015/2016 winner, Ríona Judge McCormack, chose. Working with Riona on her first novel has been a delight. She's a serious talent, and since she won the inaugural GBP Short Story Prize we've been thrilled to watch her go from strength to strength: back in May, Riona won the prestigious Hennessy Irish Writers Award, and she's also now on board with Jack Ramm at the Eve White Agency (an excellent agent at a super, conscientious company). 

We're also very happy to say that the winner of the prize will be given a detailed profile and interview in The Bookseller, the leading industry magazine, accessed by over tens of thousand of publishing professionals around the world each week.

Entry will still cost £10. We wish we could do this for free, but alas, administration costs don't pay for themselves. We have tried to help things along in other ways though: this year, there will be 25 free entries available to those on low-incomes (offered on a first-come, first-served basis - and after emailing elly@galleybeggar.co.uk). The longlisted and shortlisted stories will still be offered online at a price of £1 each (out of a firm belief that good writing deserves payment) - but 50% of the income from these publications will now be passed on to the authors. (As to where the other 50% goes: that's for the short story covers, and distribution costs. There isn't much change after that...)

... We can't wait to get rolling. The prize has been one of the best things we've done. It was exciting, invigorating - a fantastic way of confirming our faith in the talent out there. We're also happy to say that quite a few of the other writers on our shortlist of last year, as well as Riona, have gone on to find agents and publication deals. (Including Gonzalo Garcia, one of our 2015/2016 longlistees whose terrific debut - We Are The End - we'll be publishing in 2017.) 

You will find further information below. Meanwhile, if you want to see what happened last year, click on this archive page.

Long-lists, short-lists readings and prizes

  • The deadline for submissions is midnight of the evening of 30 September 2016.
  • On Friday 6 January 2017,  a longlist of 10–12 stories will be announced.
  • On Friday 27 January 2017 a short-list of 4 stories will be announced.
  • On 17 February 2017 the winner will be announced on the Galley Beggar website - followed by a profile in The Bookseller. 
  • The winning author will be invited to choose from a cash prize of £1000 or year-long editorial support from the directors of Galley Beggar Press. (See the terms and conditions for full details.)

In addition, the stories of the longlisted, shortlisted, and winning authors will be published as part of the Galley Beggar Singles Club, and on 11 March 2017 a celebratory event will be held in London, with the longlisted and shortlisted authors invited to read from their work.  

Further submission information and dates

  • Submissions must be no longer than 6,000 words, and the cost of entry for each short story is £10.
  • Submissions of six short stories or more will receive a year's free subscription to Galley Beggar Press Singles Club.
  • The deadline for submissions is midnight of the evening of 30 September 2016.
  • By entering this award, you accept the terms and conditions.
  • To submit your stories, please refer to the instructions above.


The judges for this year’s award are Sam Jordison, Eloise Millar (the co-directors of Galley Beggar Press), the acclaimed novelist Alex Pheby, and journalists and writers Chris Power and Sarah Crown.

Sarah Crown is the former editor of mumsnet.com and guardian.co.uk/books and one of the best, most-respected and most-loved literary journalists in the UK.
Alex Pheby was born in Essex and moved to Worcester in his early childhood. He currently lives with his wife and two children in London, where he teaches at the University of Greenwich. His first novel, Grace, was published in 2009 by Two Ravens Press. His second novel, Playthings – about the life of the German judge Paul Schreber – was published in 2015 by Galley Beggar Press. Widely acclaimed in media from the Guardian to the New York Times, and called “the best neuro-novel ever written” in the Literary Review, Playthings was recently shortlisted for the 2016 £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize.
Chris Power’s A Brief Survey of the Short Story has been appearing in the Guardian since 2007. He writes about books for the Guardian, the New Statesman and elsewhere. His fiction has been published in The White Review, The Dublin Review and The Stinging Fly. He lives in London. 

Sam and Eloise spent over a decade in publishing and the media before they founded Galley Beggar Press in 2012. Since its inception, Galley Beggar Press authors and books have been longlisted, shortlisted, and the winners of over 20 of the world’s most prestigious literary awards – including the Folio Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Dylan Thomas International Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Wellcome Book Prize, the Desmond Elliott First Novel Award, and the Gordon Burns Prize for Fiction. Short story award listings include the EFG Sunday Times Short Story Prize, the Tom Gallon Award, the Saboteur Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize.