UCC to donate half the cost of short story award

University College Cork has thrown a lifeline to the world’s most lucrative award for a collection of short stories.

The university is to donate half the prize money of the €25,000 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

Hosted by the Munster Literature Centre, the award — presented to the winner as part of the Cork International Short Story Festival (Sep 18-22) — is normally donated by Cork City Council. Pat Cotter, director of the literature centre, said City Hall had been “encouraging us to find a co-sponsor for a number of years. We tried the business sector and then, out of the blue, Professor Claire Connolly — head of the School of English at UCC — approached us with an offer of a donation which is now in place for three years”.

He said the funding was particularly welcome as the Munster Literature Centre suffered a cut of €10,000 from its Arts Council funding this year.

UCC’s School of English along with the Boole Library are also contributing an additional €4,000 towards the expenses of the international jury.

Prof Connolly said: “It’s very important to maintain an international component to the jury for the prestige of the prize.”

This year’s judges include writer John F Deane and Brigid Hughes, former executive editor of The Paris Review and publisher of A Public Space.

Prof Connolly said UCC was keen to nurture the legacy of Frank O’Connor a little more. “His family has been extremely generous in making donations to the library of O’Connor’s archive. Also, in the School of English, we’re developing a Masters in creative writing. We can see the benefits in building our association with Frank O’Connor’s name. If you think about creative writing courses in the US, a lot of them teach The Lonely Voice which is O’Connor’s classic study of the short story.

“He has been a very influential figure for a number of contemporary American writers including Richard Ford and Daniel Woodrell.”

The winner of this year’s Frank O’Connor Short Story Award is British writer David Constantine. He will attend the festival and will read from his winning collection Tea at the Midland. Previous winners include Haruki Murakami, Edna O’Brien and Nathan Englander.

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