2021 V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize: shortlist

24 November 2021

The unpublished short stories shortlisted for the £1,000 prize have been announced.

The ALCS-sponsored V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize was founded by the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. The shortlist for 2021, chosen by judges Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Paul McVeigh and Emma Jane Unsworth, is:

Owen Booth‘Middle-Aged Sex Object’
‘What a great story. Clever and funny. A writer with a great voice.’ – Paul McVeigh
Owen Booth is the author of What We’re Teaching Our Sons (2018) and The All-True Adventures (and Rare Education) of the Daredevil Daniel Bones (2020). His short stories have been published in Best British Short Stories 2018, Gorse Magazine, Hotel Magazine, 3AM Magazine, The White Review and The Moth Magazine, among others. He won the 2020 Moth Short Story Prize and the 2015 White Review Short Story Prize.

Maureen Cullen‘The Cailleach of Redgauntlet Close’
‘This story’s voice is strong—it establishes its own rhythm and song. It captures an urgent moment in the protagonist’s life with skill.’ – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Maureen has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She has been shortlisted in various writing competitions and has had poems and short stories published in magazines and anthologies. Her current project is a collection of linked short stories based in a fictional town in the West of Scotland.

B Johnson‘Idolatry’
‘This musical story captures childhood’s beauty and heady desires. It’s hard to succeed at lyricism without becoming overwrought and this story succeeds admirably.’ – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Bonnie Lander Johnson teaches English Literature at Cambridge University. She has published academic books on Renaissance science and religion. She’s now writing an agricultural novel, a collection of short stories about mixed-race love and a cultural history of Shakespeare’s passion for botany.

Amanda Mason‘Three Times, Lefthandwise’
‘Accomplished and elegant, this story displayed all the hallmarks of a gifted and insightful writer.’ – Emma Jane Unsworth
Amanda Mason lives in North Yorkshire. Her short fiction has appeared in various anthologies, including New Ghost Stories (The Fiction Desk) and Unthology 8 (Unthank Books). Her first novel, The Wayward Girls, was published by Zaffre in 2019 and her second, The Hiding Place, was published in October of this year.

Maeve Mulrennan‘Known To The Gardaí’
‘A powerful story with a deep, dark heart. I loved the way this tale twisted around and sent my moral compass spinning.’ – Emma Jane Unsworth
Maeve Mulrennan lives in Cork, Ireland. She was the 2018 winner of the Over the Edge New Writing Prize. Some of her short stories have been published online and in TheGalway Review. She works in the arts and studied visual art and English literature at university (a long time ago).

Leeor Ohayon ‘Gahnun on Shabbat’
‘A tender, moving piece I enjoyed from start to finish. This story has stayed with me.’ – Paul McVeigh

Leeor Ohayon is a writer from London based in Norwich. He is currently enrolled on the MA Prose Fiction Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he is working on a collection of short stories. Leeor’s short story ‘Bedbugs’ took first place in the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2021 and his short story ‘Details’ was shortlisted for the Brick Lane Bookshop Prize 2021.

The prize of £1,000 goes to the best unpublished short story of the year. The winner will be revealed on 15 December; the winning entry will be published in Prospect magazine online and in the RSL Review.