We are delighted to announce that Leopold O’Shea is the 2023 winner of the Stinging Fly/FBA Fiction Prize. Established in 2022, the €2000 prize, sponsored by Felicity Bryan Associates, is awarded annually to an emerging fiction writer published in The Stinging Fly during the previous year.
O’Shea’s winning story, ‘The Afterlife’, is his first ever published story, and appeared in The Stinging Fly’s Winter 2022 All New Writers Issue. The story, along with a special author note, can be read here on The Stinging Fly website. O’Shea was presented with the award at The Stinging Fly’s Summer Issue launch at the International Literature Festival Dublin on May 20.
Judging the 2023 prize were author Colin Barrett (Homesickness), Stinging Fly contributing editor and author Mia Gallagher (Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland) and Felicity Bryan agent, Aoife Inman. The panel was chaired by Felicity Bryan agent, Angelique Tran Van Sang, and 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:
What we loved about ‘The Afterlife’ was the counterpoint between the eerie, off-kilter precision of the voice and the brutal inevitability of the events that unfold within its taut frame. This is an assured, uncanny, expertly controlled story that would pass as a delightfully droll and low key comedy of suburban manners if it wasn’t also a chilling fable flecked with unforgettable moments of glancing horror.
Reacting to the news, Leopold O’Shea said:
When I heard about this I wanted to vomit. For that and for making me want to keep going, thank you to everyone behind The Stinging Fly.
The judges also commended two further stories: ‘Switch Bitch’ by P. Kearney Byrne and ‘Fire Island’ by James Ward:
Set in a world of squats, spliffs, dungarees and well-intentioned if perpetually compromised activism, ‘Switch Bitch’ is a fresh, invigorating, and beautifully observed story of human interaction. It is full of the right details from the right time, and is powered from head, gut and heart.
Exploring memory, identity and queer love, the author opens up spaces in the silences, in everything unsaid, pressing the reader to lean in and listen closer. With restrained and subtle prose, ‘Fire Island’ evokes a whole world in a few short pages, expanding on beyond the final full stop.
Thomas Morris says:
At The Stinging Fly, our mission is to seek out, nurture, publish, and promote the very best new writers and new writing. This prize and our partnership with Felicity Bryan Associates is a wonderful way to illuminate the exceptional new work that we are privileged to publish each year in our magazine. We would like to thank all the people on our team who make this possible, as well as this year’s judges for their time and dedication to a very difficult task. ‘The Afterlife’ is a thrilling story, and Leopold O’Shea is a very worthy winner of the prize.
Looking ahead, The Stinging Fly is eager to develop further initiatives and partnerships that will help support writers at all stages of their careers.
Previous winners of the award
2022: Emer O’Hanlon, ‘Diana in a Lonely Place’