Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012 shortlist revealed

The shortlist for this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award has been announced, revealing a selection of six stories whose topics are as diverse and as wide-ranging as the authors who penned them.

Emma Donoghue makes the final cut with a tale that brings back to life an abhorrent episode from the American War of Independence, while Pennsylvanian author Linda Oatman High adds additional punch to the shortlist with a story that looks at the effects of a high school shooting on a guarded community. The immigration experience in a modern setting is explored, as is the changing relationship between father and son following illness. And bringing some lighter relief to the shortlist is Irish short story specialist Kevin Barry, with a tale that follows a group of Liverpudlians as they embark on a beer-obsessed jocular journey to Wales. The shortlist in full, is as follows:

  • Kevin Barry – Beer Trip to Llandudno
  • Emma Donoghue – The Hunt
  • Jean Kwok – Where the Gods Fly
  • Tom Lee – The Current
  • Robert Minhinnick – El Aziz: Some Pages From His Notebooks
  • Linda Oatman High – Nickel Mines Hardware

Speaking of this year’s shortlist, Award judge novelist Joanna Trollope had the following to say:

Short stories are notoriously difficult to pull off successfully, needing – as they do – to involve the readers during reading as well as to leave them with something to reflect on afterwards, and all in only a few thousand words. What impressed me about these six stories wasn’t just their ability to pull off all of the above, but to do it in such different ways, with such different voices, and on such very different topics. I warmly congratulate all of them.

The six shortlisted authors now enter the final phase of this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, where the overall winner and recipient of the £30,000 cheque will be announced at a special ceremony at the Oxford Literary Festival on March 30th. Each of the five runners up will receive a cheque for £1,000.

From tomorrow (March 5th) all six shortlisted stories will be available in an anthology which is being published by Waterstones. It will be available to buy in store, and online at

A number of shortlist reading events, produced in conjunction with WordTheatre, are also planned, and will take place at Waterstones Piccadilly on March 27, 28 and 29.

Further details on this year’s shortlist, along with author bios and details of the inspirations behind each story, can be found on the Booktrust’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award 2012 webpage.


Rob’s Reaction: Well, it probably goes without saying that I’m delighted to see Kevin Barry making the shortlist for this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. Taking nothing away from the other longlisters, I would have considered it a travesty if he hadn’t made the cut.

What does surprise me a little is the lack of ‘a-listers’ who made the final six. No Lionel Shriver, no A.L. Kennedy, no Diane Athill, no 2011 BBC National Short Story Award shortlister Alison MacLeod, and certainly no Will Cohu, who has been on the shortlist in both previous runnings of the award. I guess the only ‘big’ name to be found on this year’s shortlist – excluding Kevin Barry of course – is Emma Donoghue, and I’m excited by this because it raises the odds of a ‘lesser known’ taking the top prize, which is exactly what has happened in previous years.

My heart really wants Kevin Barry to take the top prize of course, but I’m always delighted to see writers who are more in the shadows getting a bigger break (not to mention the HUGE cash prize), and I would be equally delighted if it were one of these writers who triumphed (and especially if it were Jean Kwok who I’ve met recently on Twitter. Warm and congenial, she’s a delight to converse with).

But of course ultimately the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award isn’t a personality contest (although if it were then Barry would have to be my favourite here too :)), and it’s down to the quality of the story. Having yet to read all six stories myself I’m reserving judgement on who I think is going to triumph overall, but I’m going to go through each of the stories over the next couple of weeks, before popping back with a more informed opinion. Meantime, I wish all six shortlisters the very best of luck. Oh, and commiserations to all authors who made the longlist but didn’t make it through. You should all be very proud of yourselves (I sound patronising I know :), but I mean it).

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Thanks for this astute analysis, Rob, and for the kind words! I’m very glad to be in such company.

    All my best,

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      And thank you for your kind words, Jean. I wish you every ounce of good luck (despite showing so much bias for Mr. Barry :))

      • Mr. Barry deserves all of your bias and more! We’re all so glad to have wonderful book bloggers like you, Rob.


  2. Thank you for announcing this, Rob! As I couldn’t get into the Sunday Times article, I used your page to announce the news to my Facebook friends. I am so thrilled and humbled to be in such good company!

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Delighted to be of some use to you Linda. And can I take the opportunity to wish you the very best of luck. Can’t wait to read your story. The plot is incredibly intriguing.

  3. Hi Rob, I also came across your blog when The Sunday Times wouldn’t let me in and have been using it to update friends. I’m a big Kevin Barry fan too but for the next 4 weeks he is my mortal enemy. Jean and Linda: hope to see you in Piccadilly and/or Oxford. Tom

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Delighted to have you stop by too Tom. It’s always a thrill and a pleasure when writers take the time to say Hi. As I did with Jean and Linda, I wish you all the very best of luck. It really is anyone’s Award. Exciting times!

    • Hey Tom,

      It’ll be great to see you in England! Really looking forward to it.


      P.S. Sorry for the socializing among authors, Rob, this is what happens when you have a popular blog!

  4. Looking forward to meeting you, Tom!