Michael McLaverty Short Story Award

Linen Hall Library launch biennial literary competition worth £2,000

The Linen Hall Library in Belfast has announced the launch of the 2014 Michael McLaverty Short Story Award.

The purpose of the award, which has run biennially since 2006, is to foster and encourage the tradition of the Irish short story. Entrants must have been born in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland and be over 18-years of age. The prize is £2,000.

Michael McLaverty (1904 - 1992) was one of the foremost proponents of the Irish short story. Born in Monaghan but raised in Belfast, he helped to perfect the form, and also published two acclaimed novels in Call My Brother Back and Lost Fields.

On a recent visit to the Library of Congress in Washington, John Killen, Linen Hall Librarian, discussed the importance of the Michael McLaverty Archive, which had been donated to the library by the literary executors of McLaverty in 2005.

A staff member of the Library of Congress remarked about McLaverty’s writing: 'I can’t recall having ever read such perfect, rich, poetic, concise writing. Every sentence is worth savouring, every story resonates long after reading it.' This sentiment echoed Seamus Heaney's assessment of McLaverty, who claimed that McLaverty's 'place in our literature is secure'.

'We are very privileged in the Library to have been donated McLaverty’s archive,' explains Killen. 'It is important that Irish writers are encouraged in every way to continue our great literary tradition. The standard of entry into the competition has always been very high and we look forward to reading the stories for the 2014 award, which can cover any subject.'

Previous winners of the award have gone on to publish further works. Aiden O’Reilly (2008) has published The Stoneybatter Files, Michéle Forbes (2010) has published the acclaimed debut novel Ghost Moth, and Mandy Taggart (2012) has published The Man of the House.

Adjudicators for this year’s competition are Anne Tannahill, freelance editor and retired MD of Belfast’s Blackstaff Press, and author Bernard MacLaverty, author of Cal, Grace Notes, Lamb and five collections of short stories.

To celebrate the arcane craft of the short story, the Linen Hall Library has republished Michael McLaverty’s The Game Cock and Other Stories, with an introduction by Dr Sophia Hillan, Joint-Literary Executor of the Michael McLaverty Literary Estate, who also recently launched her new book The Friday Tree.

The closing date for entries to the 2014 Michael McLaverty Short Story Award is June 30. Each entry costs £5. Read full entry guidelines, and visit the Linen Hall Library website for more information.