Last week we put the spotlight on the first of 2019’s shortlist, Kevin Barry. As well as being shortlisted this year, Kevin previously reached the final six in 2012 with his story ‘Beer Trip to Llandudno’, which went on to win. So far, no-one has won the prize twice – but could this be an Award first?
However, Kevin is not the only author this year to find themselves on the shortlist for a second time. We’re also delighted to welcome back Joe Dunthorne, who was shortlisted in 2010, the Award’s very first year, with his story ‘Critical Responses to My Last Relationship’.
Both authors have continued to enjoy great success since they first entered the competition.
Kevin Barry was already an award-winning short story writer and debut novelist when he entered the Award. Since then he has continued to write short stories - his collection Dark Lies the Island was also published in 2012. His novel Beatlebone was published to acclaim in 2015, and won the Goldsmiths Prize. His latest novel is Night Boat to Tangier, which has been longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019.
When Joe entered the inaugural Award, he had already experienced the runaway success of his debut novel Submarine. The film adaptation was released in 2011. Since then he has had numerous works published, including two further novels: Wild Abandon (2012), which won the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award, and The Adulterants (2018). He has also published poetry, most recently his first collection O Positive.
We're very proud of the consistency with which our alumni return to support the prize, and of their ongoing contributions to short stories and other forms of literature. Inspired by Kevin and Joe, we will now take look at some of the Award's other shortlist alumni who have experienced the prize more than once, and see where they are now.
Fittingly, the list begins with Kevin Barry, as he is one of just three entrants (at the time of writing, and discounting any possible outcome on 12th September), who have had a story shortlisted one year, and gone on to win in another (not necessarily in that order).
In this select group, Kevin is joined by American author Yiyun Li, who was first shortlisted for the Award in 2011 with her story ‘The Science of Flight’ and went on to win the award in 2015 for her story ‘A Sheltered Woman’. Since her debut with this Award in 2011 she has published two novels, Kinder than Solitude (2014) and Where Reasons End (2019) and her memoir, Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life (2017). She has also won or been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award shortlist for The Vagrant (2011), the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award shortlist for Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (2011) and she won The American Adademy of Arts and Letters's Benjamin H. Danks Award (2014).
The second is British writer Jonathan Tel, whose story ‘The Shoe-King of Shanghai’ was shortlisted in 2014, two years before he won the Award for ‘The Human Phonograph’ in 2016. Since his initial involvement with the award he has won the 2015 V.S. Pritchett Story Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. His winning story ‘The Human Phonograph’ has also been incorporated into his latest novel, Scratching the Head of Chairman Mao, which is scheduled for publication early next year.
Just two other writers have made the final six twice. Victor Lodato was shortlisted in both 2017 and 2018, for his stories ‘The Tenant’ and ‘Herman Melville: Volume I’ respectively. Since appearing on the Award shortlist he published his second novel, Edgar and Lucy, and has had short stories published in The New Yorker and Granta.
Will Cohu was also shortlisted in two consecutive years. Like Joe Dunthorne he was a finalist in the prize’s inaugural year with ‘Nothing But Grass’ and again in 2011, with ‘East Coast West Coast’. The following year he published his memoir, The Wolf Pit, which was shortlisted for the PEN/Ackerley Prize, and most recently developed his 2010 short story into part of his acclaimed debut novel, also called Nothing But Grass (2015).
Some writers have returned to support the prize in a different way. The short story is notoriously difficult to master, requiring incredible knowledge and skill in order to create something outstanding. As such, our former shortlistees can make formidable judges, and we are delighted when they agree to return to the Award in a new guise. So far, three of the Award’s shortlist have come back to judge.
The first is bestselling, BAFTA-winning author Mark Haddon, who was shortlisted in 2013 for his story ‘The Gun’, and then returned as a judge in 2016, by which time he had published his first short story collection The Pier Falls. His latest novel The Porpoise was published in May this year.
Another shortlisted writer from 2013 was award-winning author Sarah Hall. Her story ‘Evie’ was in the final six that year, and she returned in 2014, but this time on the judging panel. Since entering the Award has Sarah published a new novel, The Wolf Border, and a collection of short stories, Madame Zero. She also won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2013 for her story ‘Mrs Fox’, and judged the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Her third short story collection, Sudden Traveller, will be published in November.
Most recently Petina Gappah rose to the challenge. She was shortlisted in 2016 with ‘The News of Her Death’, and returned to judge the Award in 2018. The same year that she was shortlisted she published her second short story collection, Rotten Row, and her second novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light, will be published in September.
While this article looks just at our returning shortlisted writers, there are of course many authors who have been longlisted multiple times - sometimes in conjunction with being shortlisted, and The Award has been honoured to have eight judges return to repeat their experience over the past decade. In addition, so many of the single-appearance Award alumni, among them Emma Donoghue, Ali Smith, Sally Rooney - have gone on – or continued to – make significant contributions to their field. We feel proud to celebrate the achievements of each and every one.
Join us later in the week when we will be looking at Emma Cline. She joins the prize for the very first time, but takes her place as the latest representative from the United States, which has consistently produced authors that have made an impact throughout the Award’s history.