BOOKS: Short story writer Kevin Barry has won the Edge Hill Prize for second time

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Kevin Barry pictured at the Edinburgh Book Festival by Bill Heaney.

Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett is this weekend’s Irish Times offer at Eason’s. You can buy it with the paper for €4.99, a saving of €5.

Kevin Barry has won the Edge Hill Prize for the second time, the first writer to do so in the award’s 15-year history.

The Irish writer, who also won the £10,000 prize in 2013, commended his competitors as “brilliant” and described the prize as playing a “critical role in advancing and promoting the short story form”.

“It feels like an especially unlikely turn of luck to win the prize a second time,” he said. “There were brilliant story writers on both the short list and long list so I’m very grateful to the judges.”

Kevin, who lives in Co Sligo, won the award for That Old Country Music (Canongate), the latest in a long list of accolades including the International Dublin Literary Award, The Goldsmiths Prize and The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Prize.

“I think the short story is a sacred form,” he added. “There’s nothing more intense for the reader than to be in the hands of a great story and there’s nothing more difficult for a writer to get right.”

Newcomer Alice Ash said she was “honoured, elated and completely shocked” to have won the £1,000 Reader’s Choice Award, chosen by staff and students at Edge Hill University, for Paradise Block (Serpent’s Tail/Profile).

“Having published Paradise Block into the depths of the pandemic, I haven’t had a huge amount of engagement with readers and I sometimes felt like maybe I’d dreamt the whole thing. Hearing that I’d won the prize made the whole experience come alive for me – it has been incredibly fulfilling and I’m so grateful to the readers for selecting my book.

“As the Edge Hill Prize was the most prestigious short story prize I’d ever heard of, I wanted to nervously throw my hat in and I’m so glad I did because this has been a very happy and nourishing experience for me.”

Billy commended Alice’s “dark, compelling imagination”. “This is a writer to look out for and I’m sure her next work will be very special indeed.”

The third winner was Kashyap Raja, a creative writing masters student at Edge Hill who won the MA Prize for Epiphany.

“The news is still sinking in,” he said. “When my name was announced I couldn’t believe it. I have never won a prize for my writing before, so this is special for me.

Kashyap, from London, said his performances at storytelling nights encouraged him to “look into my life and find those little memories which made me the person I am today; these little stories make me relive those moments and help me grow as a writer.”

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