This story, about a young Irishman working on a building site in North-west London, is a vivid, evocative story with characters that stayed with me long after I’d read it. He crossed over to where Dermot was pinning a mark and took up a pickaxe. This was the detritus of centuries tramped down hard.
It’s a real gift to be able to create characters who leap off the page in a few sentences, who the reader will care deeply about - and this story manages to do that in spades. "Awful man that foreman," breathed Dermot as he put his weight behind the spade.
Quality is all.'s stories and prose have won The Costa Short Story Award, The National Flash Fiction Competition, Inkspill, the Fish Short Memoir Prize, and been placed in The Asham Prize, The Short Story Competition, The Bath Story Award, and The Manchester Fiction Prize. We usually ate in the canteen but it was someone’s birthday that day, so we went to the mall for lunch. A job, DSS, a cheap flat, a place to buy booze at two in the morning – all was within Shane's power to sort.
She has had prose published in Mslexia, Prole, Black and Blue, Matter, and anthologies including The Bristol Prize, and Unthology (Unthanks.)Her debut collection, Don't Try This it at Home (And Other Stories) won a Saboteur Award in 2015, and The Rubery Book Award. Rolling his own, finger-tipping the tobacco onto the little Rizla sheet, running the tip of his tongue along the edge and tucking in the stray ends with the end of a match. I used to know a girl in junior school who had a horse. When she trotted, both tails used to swing and bounce in time. All morning there have been the sounds of departure. I didn’t even know his name, the guy whose birthday it was. On a tip that same night, Fergal had landed a few weeks’ work in a pizza factory in Kingsbury.
She also writes poetry, her collection is out with Nine Arches in November 2016. The phrase sounds anachronistic here, in this place, with this man’s accent. She’d feed it sugar lumps and I’d watch its tongue on the skin of her palm and I’d get a hard-on. Shouts, truck doors slamming, the clatter of cans, the slap of folding canvas, engines revving and the spit of sand from accelerating tyres. Last week the menthol guard told me the others were dead. Fergal peeled and chopped his booster combo of fruit: kiwi, bananas, cantaloupe and raspberries.
Many of the entries (both stories and essays) for this year’s Prolitzer Short Fiction Prize possess a darkness of mood and tone; almost all explore themes of uprootedness and uncertainty. When you push your metabolism to the brink every day, you need a vitamin charge. If Shane were to fall from the windowsill he would hit the pavement splat just opposite the greengrocers. When the pump had kicked in, the concrete flowed out from the tube in a huge gush.
The story I chose as the winner, ‘Dissolving’ (Melanie Whipman), is typical in that it is dark and introspective. His shoulders start to shake and he makes a wheezing, choking sound. Big snaky coils remained distinct for several seconds, then merged into the mass.
It is also beautifully written – the sentences are taut and powerful; the reader has to work hard to piece together the details given to us in the story: a man is being held hostage, along with another. In the minutes before his death, he recalls aspects of his life, his upbringing in Sussex, his schooldays and teachers, his relationship with his father. Their job was to spread it across the hardcore with rakes and spades.A solemn tale, it is also devoid of self-pity and political polemic. I see him moving out of the corner of my eye, twisting on his feet and backside to face me. Once he had stood too close to the tube and the concrete had welled up over his boots.No character is judged, including the protagonist’s executioners. The steel fixers wore check shirts and leather toolbelts.In doing this, the writer, who weaves the story around the central and repeating image of a dissolving sugar cube, is able to portray how fragile life is, how quickly it passes and how, increasingly, global politics permeates all of our lives. They laid out steel rods in a lattice and clipped them together.It’s both a timely and stunning piece of writing, and a worthy winner. The look of this reminded Fergal of something but he couldn't put his finger on it.My choice for second place is ‘The Enormous Building Site’ (Aiden O'Reilly). Fergal had no point of entry to their humour and walked off stony-faced.