The Edge Hill prize is open to short story collections and carries a prize of £5,000 to the winner.
Barry is nominated for his collection Dark Lies The Island (Jonathan Cape), for which he is no stranger to success – its standout story, “Beer Trip to Llandudno”, claimed the £30,000 Sunday Times Short Story Award last year – while Donoghue is included for Astray, a series of snapshots from the past published in 2012 by Pan Macmillan.
There is no shortage of quality in the remainder of the Edge Hill prize shortlist, either:
Jon McGregor followed up his IMPAC award win for Even The Dogs with the short story collection “This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You” (Bloomsbury), and the Nottingham writer is quickly back on the award circuit again.
Jane Rogers, who has several well-received novels behind her, makes the list for “Hitting Trees With Sticks” and on a notable day for independent non-profit publisher Comma Press, Adam Marek is also nominated for “The Stone Thrower”.
The sextet (the quality was so high, apparently, that the organisers couldn’t manage to whittle it down to the normal five) is completed by Lucy Wood for her debut collection, “Diving Belles”, published by Bloomsbury.
Of the six I’ve read only Dark Lies The Island, and if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t yet read “Beer Trip to Llandudno”, you’re in for a treat (although it must be pointed out that as a thirtysomething taken equally with beer and books, I’m its perfect reader).
For reasons of which I’m not wholly sure – a dull title and that historical bent, perhaps (I struggled even with Wolf Hall) – Astray just didn’t catch the attention, but if I’m missing out please let me know in the comments.
Yes, of course it isn’t at all fair to judge books by their title (next mind the cover), but in an era of snap decisions, savvy marketing, abundant choice and dwindling disposable income, a title that grabs the attention must play a significant role in the success or otherwise of any book.
The winner of the Edge Hill prize will be announced in a ceremony at Waterstones Piccadilly on July 4th. I should wish the best of luck to Kevin Barry and Emma Donoghue at this point, but forgive me for saying I’d really like to see Comma Press walk away with this particular prize. Books need brave new independents, whether that’s publishers or bookstores, and for them to prosper every award is, quite literally, vital.