Portstewart writer Bernie McGill has been chosen as a finalist in this year’s Edge Hill Short Story Prize – the UK’s most significant prize for short story books.
McGill was nominated for her debut collection of short stories, Sleepwalkers, a moving account of the lives of women across generations, published by Northern Ireland’s newest digital publisher Whittrick Press.
From the storm-battered coastline of the north of Ireland to the sleeping villas of Andalusia, McGill’s characters grapple with the consequences of affairs, bereavement, alcoholism, illness and murder.
McGill, who is also known for the well-received novel The Butterfly Cabinet, said: 'I am delighted and honoured to be the only Northern Ireland-based writer on the shortlist for this year’s Edge Hill Short Story Prize.
'I love reading and writing short stories – they're like little snatched views through a window or a doorway, portals into a glimpsed other world. The stories within Sleepwalkers capture intimate moments of loss, love, and healing in a troubled age – they're about giving voice to the extraordinary moments we encounter in all our ordinary lives.'
Also shortlisted for the £5,000 prize are author Rachel Trezise, winner of the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize, Jaki McCarrick whose story, 'The Visit', won the Wasafari prize for new fiction, multi-award winning poet John Burnside who also has a regular column in the New Statesman and David Rose whose story, 'Flora', appeared in The Best British Short Stories 2011.
David Lewis, co-founder of Whittrick Press, said: 'This is fantastic news for both Bernie and Whittrick Press. Sleepwalkers was our first publication, released late last year, and we are extremely proud that Bernie’s exceptional work is being recognised at a national level. Whittrick Press is delivering on its aim to take writers’ work outside of Northern Ireland to the rest of the world.'
Damian Smyth, Head of Drama & Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland which supported the publication through its Creative Industries Innovation Fund, said: 'To be shortlisted for an award like this is well-deserved recognition for a local writer who has already enjoyed significant critical acclaim with her debut novel.
'Congratulations to Bernie and to Whittrick Press on this prestigious nomination and for once again putting Northern Ireland writers on the literary world-stage.'
The winners of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize will be announced at an awards ceremony on July 3 at the Free Word Centre on Farringdon Road, London. Sleepwalkers is available to buy on Kindle, Kobo and iTunes via the Whittrick Press website.