RIONA JUDGE MCCORMACK’s ‘Backburn’ was the magnificent winning story of the inaugural 2015/16 GBP Short Story Prize. 

To read ‘Backburn’, click here

To read Ríona’s interview with us, click here

In 2016, Ríona also won the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award. Read the winning story, ‘Some strange moon’, here

A profile of Ríona can be found in The Irish Times, here.  

The 2015/16 GBP Short Story Prize judges on Ríona Judge McCormack’s ‘Backburn’  

Ben Myers
In ‘Backburn’, Riona Judge McCormack writes like an author already well-established. The drama of an encroaching bush fire and the community that are pulled together to fight it is more than enough to sustain this pungent narrative. Hidden in the gaps is a suggested back-story too – one of traditions, relationships, hierarchies, race and tragedy. To me, it brought to mind several masters of the rural story – from William Faulkner through to Cormac McCarthy and J.M. Coetzee - and felt less like a novel compressed into a story and more a glimpse into a whole other world that I wanted to know a more about.  

A joint statement from the 2015/16 judging panel of Sam Jordison, Eloise Millar, Paul Ewen and Ben Myers
One of the great things about ‘Backburn’ is that – as far as we’re concerned – it’s come from nowhere.  And also that it isn’t just a fine work of art in and of itself, it’s the announcement of a new talent. Ríona is a writer who can immerse you in a scene; she allows you to walk side-by-side with her characters, helps you enter their thoughts, she makes you feel their world... Her writing is vivid, sharp and particular. It is evocative, it's real – and it packs a correspondingly heavy punch. It’s a lesson in controlled anger, rage set on simmer and, as the title suggests, fire.

While ‘Backburn’ is a wonderful story, the really exciting thing is what happens next. It’s a delight to be here, at the beginning of a career. One we hope and assume will be exciting and prize-packed.