We are thrilled to announce that Emer O’Hanlon is the 2022 winner of the inaugural Stinging Fly/FBA Fiction Prize. The €2000 prize, sponsored by Felicity Bryan Associates, will be awarded annually to an emerging fiction writer published in The Stinging Fly during the previous year.
O’Hanlon’s winning story, ‘Diana in a lonely place’ was published in our Summer 2021 Issue. You can read the story—along with a special author note—on The Stinging Fly’s website. Emer will be presented with the award at The Stinging Fly Summer Party at the International Literature Festival Dublin on May 26.
Judging the 2022 prize were author Colin Barrett (Homesickness), Stinging Fly contributing editor and author Mia Gallagher (Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland) and Felicity Bryan agent, Angelique Tran Van Sang. The panel was chaired by Thomas Morris, author (We Don’t Know What We’re Doing) and Editor-at-Large of The Stinging Fly.
Awarding the prize, the judges stated:
A scorching, confounding story that resists easy choices, Emer O’Hanlon’s ‘Diana in a lonely place’ is a work of exceptional accomplishment. With great skill, subtlety and humanity, it weaves and subverts core elements of the classic short-story form, examining the intersection between our online and offline selves from surprisingly fresh angles. Brutal and beautiful in its execution, the story pushes up against what is comfortable, entangling the reader in a complicity that lays bare the starkest and rawest elements of human connection.
The judges also commended two further stories: ‘The Baby’ by Jacinta Mulders and ‘The Strange Kid’ by Glen Jeffries:
A short, strange, compelling piece, ‘The Baby’ sucks you in with its insistent cosy choral voice, then splinters you off, lonely first person on a quest for autonomy. Tilting somewhere between parable, allegory and fable, it explores themes of responsibility, freedom, abdication and—just maybe—hope.
‘The Strange Kid’ will burrow its way into your brain and refuse to leave, much like what happens to the protagonist’s obsessive boyfriend in this metafictional gem. How can an author make a story about a story so strangely compelling? It read like a knowing wink and sly elbow in the gut—a solidly constructed and self-contained world, eerie and mundane in equal, delicious measure.
This exciting partnership with Felicity Bryan Associates helps us celebrate and illuminate the brilliant new writers and new writing that we are privileged to publish each year. Choosing one story from all the wonderful stories we published in 2021 was an enormously difficult task and we’re grateful to our judges for bearing that pain on our behalf. ‘Diana is a lonely place’ is a superb work of fiction, and Emer a very worthy winner of our inaugural prize.
Looking forward, The Stinging Fly is eager to develop further initiatives that will help support writers at all stages of their careers, and allow us to continue in our mission to seek out, nurture, publish and promote the very best new writers and new writing.