28th February 2019



Awarded for an original work of short fiction under 2000 words


The aim of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize is both to celebrate the best of new short fiction and to give winners the most visibility possible for their writing. That’s why we’ve teamed up with ten different literary and artistic institutions to make sure that the winners and runners-up receive not only a cash prize and a writing retreat but that all our shortlisters have the opportunity to be published in multiple print and online locations, have their work put in front of literary agents and perform in multiple countries.

Last year we received over 450 entries from 36 countries and produced the beautiful booklet Eleven Stories, which you can see below.

This year we’ve just added more to the kitty.

The Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize adheres to CLMP’s Contest Code of Ethics

First Prize:

– €1000
– A week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation
– A consultation with a US Literary Agent from Foundry Literary + Media.

Runner-up Prizes:

– €250 (two prizes available).

All Shortlisted Writers:

– Will be published in a truly smashing, limited edition Risograph booklet published by ourselves truly and launched at the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize Salon, Madrid
– Publication in 3:AM, Structo Magazine, Helter Skelter, The London Magazine, and The Second Shelf  (women only)
– Participation in Desperate Literature Prize Salons (Salons, no less) at Desperate Literature, Madrid; Shakespeare and Company, Paris; Burley Fisher, London; and The Second Shelf, London (women only)
– Limited edition prints by Ruda Studio
– Participation in the Rizoma Film Festival.


One Shortlisted Winner: 

– Will be selected for a week’s residency at Casa Ana, Andalusia, as part of their Creative Writing Programme.*


*before entering, please read our eligibility and conditions to see how the prize is funded, prize details, entry conditions and to assess your eligibility.


The Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Italy.

“It’s hard to think of a more inspiring place than Civitella – a medieval castle turned artists residency, and a rare place that is absolutely international in its cultural outlook, yet rooted in the Umbrian countryside and history.”

– Ed Cottrell, winner of the 2018 Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize




28th February 2019
Midnight GMT + 1 (Madrid vermouth hour)


31th March 2019


15th April 2019


€20 for the first entry
€10 for every further entry
(max. of five entries per person)


– The Desperate Literature Short Fiction prize is awarded to an original work of fiction under 2000 words
– Translations are accepted, but the prize is awarded to the original writer, not the translator
– Submissions are anonymous
– Stories should be submitted in .pdf format upon payment of the entry fee, without mention of the author or translator name within the document.




Click here to read quotes from other winners, a literary agent and a publisher 


“The Desperate Literature Prize has to be be unique in its internationalism and focus on new, experimental writing. It was April 1st when I received the call telling me the judges had chosen my story ‘Frailings’ as the winner, which added considerably to the sense of disbelief. I am honoured to have been among such a strong longlist.

There are very few opportunities of this kind, particularly for writing that is ‘outside the mainstream’ – whatever that really means. I can’t think of a short story prize which offers such a cocktail of artistic and transformative opportunities. Since winning I’ve been invited to give readings in Paris and Madrid and consulted with a major literary agency in the US; I was also a resident writer at Civitella Ranieria Foundation, in a castle in Italy, where I stayed amongst a truly international network of artists and writers. I’ve just found out my story is being translated into Spanish and will distributed at Rizoma film festival. And all this is on top of generous prize money, meetings with fellow writers and publishers, and publication in limited edition booklet, as well as in tons of magazines.

It really is a fairytale literary prize, and I am immensely proud to be the inaugural winner.”

Ed Cottrell, winner of the 2018 Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize




The first round of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize will be judged by the Desperate Literature team: Terry Craven, Charlotte Delattre, Robert Greer and Emily Westmoreland. As soon as we have a shortlist, we’ll hand it over to our shortlist judges who will then pick the winner and runners-up.

Claire-Louise Bennett‘s short fiction and essays have been published in several publications including The Moth and The Irish Times. She received the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize in 2013. Her first book, Pond, was published in 2016.

Co-editor for fiction at 3:AM MagazineEley Williams is a writer and lecturer based in Ealing. Her collection of short stories Attrib. And Other Stories (Influx Press) was chosen by Ali Smith as one of the best debut works of fiction published in 2017.

Sam Riviere is the author of the poetry books 81 Austerities (Faber, 2012) and Kim Kardashian’s Marriage (2015). Safe Mode, an ambient novel, was published by Test Centre in 2017. He lives in Edinburgh and runs the micropublisher If a Leaf Falls Press.