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G&A: The Contest Blog

The late novelist J. G. Farrell was honored on Wednesday with the Lost Man Booker Prize, awarded for Troubles (Phoenix), which was published during a period in 1970 when changes in the prestigious prize's publication date guidelines rendered many books ineligible for entry. The prize, given just this once to recognize a book released during that time, is the second Booker for a work by Farrell, who won the 1973 award for the second novel in a trilogy that began with Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Farrell died in 1979 in Ireland's Bantry Bay.

The winning book was selected by public vote by a majority— 38 percent—from a shortlist that included The Birds on The Trees (Virago Press) by Nina Bawden, The Bay of Noon (Virago Press) by Shirley Hazzard, Fire From Heaven (Arrow Books) by Mary Renault, The Driver's Seat (Penguin Classics) by Muriel Spark, The Vivisector (Vintage) by Nobel Prize–winner Patrick White. The semifinalists were determined by poet Tobias Hill, broadcaster Katie Derham, and journalist Rachel Cooke.

Troubles, which has not been out-of-print since its publication, was most recently published in a U.S. edition by New York Review Books Classics in 2002.

The winners of this year's New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Australia's thirty-one-year-old prize series, include two debut novelists, a decorated fiction writer, and an established poet attempting to fill a void in the library of her country.

Jordie Albiston, author of six books of poetry, won the thirty-thousand-dollar Kenneth Slessor Prize for poetry for her collection of sonnets, the sonnet according to 'm' (John Leonard Press), written as a response to a dearth of Australian poetry written in the form.  

''I was interested in applying the form to Australian language in particular," Albiston told the Australian newspaper the Age. "I wanted to contribute to the genre as an Australian.''

In fiction, two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee won the forty-thousand-dollar Christina Stead Prize for his novel Summertime (Harvill Secker). Andrew Croome received the UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) Glenda Adams Award for first fiction for his novel set during the Cold War, Document Z (Allen & Unwin), and Cate Kennedy, author of the short story collection Dark Roots (Grove Press, 2008), won the People's Choice Award for her first novel, The World Beneath (Scribe).

Memoirist Abbas El-Zein won the fifteen-thousand-dollar Community Relations Commission Award for Leave to Remain (University of Queensland Press), his story of individuals and families affected by war. Screenwriter Jane Campion received honors as well for Bright Star, her 2009 film about Romantic poet John Keats.

In the video below, debut author Croome talks about his experience writing his first novel.

We recently asked the folks at Glimmer Train Stories, who hold twelve fiction contests a year, to let us know what they look for in a story submission. Here's what the editors—Portland, Oregon, sisters Linda Swanson-Davies and Susan Burmeister-Brown, who have also edited the essay anthologies Where Love Is Found and Mother Knows (both out from Simon & Schuster)—had to say about the kind of "well-crafted stories of substance" they hope to publish.

"Because Glimmer Train Stories is a print publication, and those seem to be becoming more scarce, it is important to us that the stories we publish capture some aspect of being human that will feel as meaningful in fifty years as it does now.

"From the beginning, Glimmer Train has welcomed the work of new writers, partly because publication opportunities are particularly rare for them, but also because it is really exciting to find, fall in love with, and publish great stories by new voices. It is one of the most fun things we do."

At the moment, entries are open for the Short Story Award for New Writers, which will award twelve hundred dollars and publication to a writer who has not published fiction in a journal with a circulation over five thousand. Next month Glimmer Train will accept submissions to its Fiction Open competition of stories ranging from two thousand to twenty thousand words. Contest guidelines and a glimpse of the magazine are available on the Glimmer Train Press Web site.

Mary Robison, author of four short story collections, has been named the latest winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story, given to recognize significant work the form. The prize, which was last awarded in 2008 to Amy Hempel, is typically given annually and carries an award of thirty
thousand dollars.

A native of Washington, D.C., who now teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Robison was commended by judges Andrea Barrett, Hempel, and Jayne Anne Phillips for her stories' "lean, cool ferocity and their wry takes on people in pivotal moments." Her story collections are Days (Knopf, 1979), An Amateur’s Guide to the Night (Random House, 1983), Believe Them (Knopf, 1988), and Tell Me: Thirty Stories (Counterpoint, 2002), and Robison has also published five novels including Oh! (Knopf, 1981), Why Did I Ever (Counterpoint, 2001), and One D.O.A., One on the Way (Counterpoint, 2009).  

Previous winners of the Rea Award, founded in 1986 by writer and "passionate reader" Michael Rea, include Cynthia Ozick, Tobias Wolff, Eudora Welty, Andre Dubus, and Antonya Nelson.

"I write a little every day, without hope and without despair," said Danish author Isak Dinesen. Hers was one of twenty quotes by writers on writing selected by Crazyhorse from readers' nominations to grace the journal's Web site. Contest participants who submitted winning entries will receive a subscription to the magazine, which turned fifty this year.

Below are a few selections from the picks of the judges—the editorial interns—which will appear in a graphic on the journal's home page. Currently, the Web site is showcasing quotes from the latest issue, including works by winners of the Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize and the Crazyhorse Prize—Kary Wayson and Elizabeth Oness.

"If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up."—Hunter S. Thompson

"All I am is the trick of words writing themselves."
—Anne Sexton

"Write, damn you! What else are you good for?"
—James Joyce

"I could claim any number of high-flown reasons for writing, just as you can explain certain dogs behavior... But maybe, it’s that they’re dog, and that’s what dogs do."
—Amy Hempel

"Writing is finally a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To leap. To fly. To fail."
—Susan Sontag

As a response an observed increase in the popularity of the form, the Dublin Review of Books has launched a one-time flash fiction contest. The free, online magazine of book reviews and news will publish three short short stories selected by a DRB editor and Irish fiction writers James Ryan and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, and award the author of the winning work a prize of one thousand euros (approximately thirteen hundred dollars).

Writers from anywhere in the world working in English may enter up to three stories of no more than five hundred words each, either via the online form or e-mail, by June 1. A ten-euro entry fee (approximately thirteen dollars), which the DRB will accept through PayPal, is required.

Judge James Ryan is the author of novels South of the Border (Lilliput Press, 2008), Seeds of Doubt (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001), and Home from England (Phoenix House, 1995). To read a short story by Ryan, check out issue seven of the Dublin Review (no relation to DRB).

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, who has studied medieval literature and oral tradition and has a doctorate in Irish folklore, has published short story collections including The Pale Gold of Alaska (Blackstaff Press, 2000) and Blood and Water (Attic Press, 1988), and the novel The Dancers Dancing (Blackstaff Press, 1999), which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Also holding short short story contests this spring are the Bridport Arts Centre in England and New Millennium Writings in the United States, both with deadlines in June.

The National Book Foundation (NBF) announced today that among the winners of its Innovations in Reading Prizes is Cellpoems, a poetry journal distributed via text message. The journal, which accepts submissions online and, naturally, via text message, will receive a twenty-five-hundred-dollar grant to continue, in the words of NBF's director of programs Leslie Shipman, "using technology in a surprising and innovative way to make poetry a part of people’s daily lives."

Details on how to submit and how to receive the journal—which readers can also follow on Twitter—are available on the Cellpoems Web site.

Other 2010 Innovations in Reading winners are 826 Valencia, the San Francisco branch of 826 National's network of nonprofit literary centers; Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop for teenage boys incarcerated in Washington, D.C.; Mount Olive Baptist Church in rural South Carolina, which established a community children's library; and United Through Reading, a program assists parents who are separated from their children in creating DVD recordings of storybook readings.

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