Hardie Grant, Australia, 2021
Cover design and illustrations Design by Committee
The Furphy Literary Award was established in 1992 for writers of all ages in the greater Shepparton region. It was inspired by the Furphy family’s interest in story-telling. In 2020 the award was expanded and entries were welcomed from across Australia. The topic for 2021 was Australian Life in all Its Diversity.
Three writers were awarded prizes: Thomas Alan for Oranges; Michelle Prak for Holden and Andrew Roff for No Good Deed. Thirteen other stories are also included in this year’s anthology.
Oranges is told in the voice of an angry teenaged boy living in a country town and beset with feelings of not belonging, not fitting in and generally being the butt of others’ displeasure. It’s a strong, keenly observed evocation of small-town life but also of the teenage angst which drives the tale.
Michelle Prak’s story of a young girl from a disadvantaged background is desperately sad and poignant. In all its hopelessness, one doesn’t know whether to be buoyed or dismayed at the ending and the strong Pollyanna-esque main character’s determination to make the best of the awfulness of her life.
Andrew Roff takes us down a distinctly surreal path with his story of a woman in denial of goodness, unwillingly finding her better self, her lost young self and eventually the path to a redemption of sorts. It’s black humour but with a light touch.
The short story is a tough form to get right and the Furphy Literary Award is to be applauded for providing a platform for writers to hone the skill, along with generous money prizes for the winners. The opportunity to be published in the anthology for the other selected writers is also something to be celebrated.
Aspiring short story writers can find out more at https://www.furphystory.com.au/furphy-literary-award/the-awards/
Thomas Alan’s winning story can also be found on this website.
Thank you Hardie Grant for my review copy, Furphy Literary Award winner Thomas Alan for speaking with me about his story and DMCPR for facilitating.