Writer scoops Cork award

A BRITISH writer Simon Van Booy has won the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award for his collection, Love Begins in Winter. The €35,000 prize is the richest in the world for a short story collection.

Speaking at the award ceremony, held at the Stack Theatre at the Cork School of Music, Mr Van Booy said he was surprised and “very, very grateful” to have won.

“I was very nervous coming to Cork for the Frank O’Connor Festival,” he said. “But I stopped being nervous when I read the other short-listed books. I was shocked by the quality of the work, and I knew I had no hope of winning.”

Mr Van Booy was named as the winner of the prize by Patrick Cotter, director of the Munster Literature Centre, which organises the festival and Short Story Award. The prize, now in its fifth year, is funded by Cork City Council.

Mr Cotter described the six books short-listed this year as being “the most evenly matched collections we’ve ever had. The final decision was a majority one, rather than a unanimous one”.

Vincent McDonnell, an Irish writer, based in Co Cork, was one of the judges, along with an American, Lloren Foster, a literary historian who teaches at Hampton University, and a Pole, Milka Jankowska, who runs the International Short Story Festival in Wroclaw.

Mr McDonnell said he had read the winning collection of stories three times through, and would happily read it again. “I particularly liked the title story, Love Begins in Winter, and another called Tiger, Tiger,” he said. “But what won the prize for Simon was the overall quality of the collection as a whole. His writing is wonderful.”

Love Begins in Winter is Mr Van Booy’s second collection of stories, and follows The Secret Lives of People in Love. His first novel is to be published next year.

The author, 34, was born in London of an Irish mother, grew up in rural Wales and Oxford, and now lives in New York, where he teaches part-time at the School of Visual Arts and at Long Island University.

His journalism has appeared in the New York Times and the New York Post, and he won the HR Hays Poetry Prize in 2002.

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