‘The Desperate Literature Prize stands out in how far they go for all their shortlisters, long after the selection is made. International events, speaking opportunities, publication with other outlets: it’s astonishing how a small bookshop can connect us to so many people in the book world.‘
Naomi Wood—2023 Shortlister
‘The Desperate Literature Prize
changed everything for me.’
Francesca Reece—2019 Winner
‘Being shortlisted for the Desperate Literature Prize
was a stonkingly delicious experience.’
Annie Hayter—2022 Shortlister
“I LIKE THIS PRIZE ESPECIALLY BECAUSE IT’S SO INTERNATIONAL. THE VOICES AREN’T COMING FROM A LIMITED CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE…THERE’S A BREADTH OF WIDER EXPERIENCES BY THE WRITERS. THEY’RE CONVEYING SOMETHING, AND I THINK CONVEYING SOMETHING WITH URGENCY.”
OTTESSA MOSHFEGH—2024 JUDGE
ABOUT THE PRIZE:
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 fourteen different literary and artistic institutions to not only offer cash prizes and writing retreats but also to ensure that all our shortlisters have the opportunity to be published in multiple print and online journals, have their work put in front of literary agents, and present their stories in multiple countries.
NEW THIS YEAR:
INCREASED CASH PRIZES
A NEW RESIDENCY
ALL LONGLISTERS RECEIVE ONE YEAR’S ACCESS TO
THE LITERARY CONSULTANCY’S ‘BEING A WRITER’ PLATFORM
The Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize adheres to CLMP’s Contest Code of Ethics
– €1000 (two prizes available).
All Shortlisted Writers:
– Will be published in a truly smashing, limited edition book published by ourselves truly and launched at the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize Salon, Madrid.
– Publication with one of our partner journals: Helter Skelter, The London Magazine, Prototype, gorse, Tenement, Kill Your Darlings, Minor Literature[s], The Second Shelf.
– Participation in Desperate Literature Prize events at Desperate Literature, Madrid and Burley Fisher, London.†
†Events depend upon availability at host establishment, please read
our eligibility & conditions for more details.
“Civitella was beyond anything I could have expected. The castle and the grounds are straight out of a fairy-tale, every window is an entrance to scenery that inspires. But what makes it such an amazing place to go are the people. From musicians, to composers, to sculptors, to poets to novelists all sharing ideas, and their work. It is a space free of judgement. While there you could write a thousand words, write five hundred words, write nothing at all, but you would still leave knowing more about how to create stories then you ever have before. Getting to the point, if you ever have the chance to go there, make it happen. I’m already plotting my next trip.”
—Paige Cowan-Hall, winner of the 2021 Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize
Studio Faire Residency,
‘I went to Studio Faire with an untested concept for a novel and came back with twelve chapters, a laser focus on the project, and new friends who feel like old friends. The pace of life in Nérac allows for a completely personal work schedule. From the expansive and private back garden of the Studio Faire house, to the river walk, to the lovely views and old buildings, to the delightful restaurants and farmer’s market on Saturday, this experience was one of the best of my professional and personal life…a perfect bubble of time and space that belongs to you, a time to let go of everything else, a time to forget that there is any world outside this place and your own ideas.’
—Julie Price Carpenter, Studio Faire Writer-in-Residence, 2023
READ THE PREVIOUS SHORTLISTS BEFORE ENTERING:
Before entering, you can read grab the previously shortlisted stories!
– The 2018 – 2023 pdf whammy: €8 (€2.50 refunded upon entering the prize).
– The 2023 pdf edition: €2.50 (Fully refunded upon entering the prize).
– 2021 / 2022 / 2023 print editions: €11 (€2.50 refunded upon entering the prize).
You can also read a selection of shortlisted works from 2018 – 2021 on our ‘Previous Winners‘ page.
April 14th 2024
Early June 2024
Late June 2024 (all shortlisters notified)
Early July 2024 (PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT)
€20 for the first entry
€10 for every further entry
(max. of five entries per person)
40 spaces available for full-fee sponsorship through Desperate Literature
60 spaces available for half-fee sponsorship through Desperate Literature
Deadline for application for a sponsored place:
April 1st 2024
Applications will be judged on a case-by-case basis by a member of the team with the support of Spread the Word UK. A further package of sponsored entries has been offered to the following organisations: Spread the Word (10), The Literary Consultancy (5), Helter Skelter (5).
For details of how these places are funded and how to apply, please see our eligibility & conditions page.
– 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.
FOR A FULL LIST OF GUIDELINES, SEE OUR ELIGIBILITY & CONDITIONS PAGE
From 2022 shortlister, Annie Hayter
‘Being shortlisted for the Desperate Literature Prize was a stonkingly delicious experience. I had the opportunity to read my work boisterously in two bookshops in Madrid and London to delighted and receptive audiences. Receiving this affirmation radically changed my perspective on myself as a writer; giving me the faith that there was a readership for the weird and wrangling prose I want and need to create. Having this warm and welcoming space to share my work, and all the concomitant support really mattered. I was deeply moved by the immense care and consideration taken by the entire Desperate Literature team, who tirelessly champion their winning and shortlisted authors, offering them a wellspring of opportunities.’
From 2019 winner, Francesca Reece
‘The Desperate Literature Prize changed everything for me. It gave me a platform to get my writing out there and to meet so many interesting, talented people. The prizes are just ridiculously good but the whole experience – the events in Madrid, Paris and London, getting published in Eleven Stories, all of it – was unforgettable.’
After winning the Desperate Literature Short Prize for Short Fiction, Francesca signed with Charlotte Seymour (then at Andrew Nurnberg Associates). Her first novel, Voyeur, was released with Tinder Press in 2021.
From 2018 winner, Ed Cottrell
‘It really is a fairytale literary prize, and I am immensely proud to be the inaugural winner.’
Click here to read quotes from other winners, literary agents, and previous judges.
Megan McDowell has translated the work of many of the most important Latin American writers working today, including Samanta Schweblin, Alejandro Zambra, and Mariana Enríquez. Her translations have won the National Book Award, the English PEN award for Writing in Translation, the Premio Valle-Inclán, the Shirley Jackson Prize, and two O. Henry Prizes. In 2020 she won an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is from Richmond, KY and lives in Santiago, Chile.
Photo credit: Camila Valdés
Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from New England. Eileen, her first novel, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Death in Her Hands, her second and third novels, were New York Times bestsellers. She is also the author of the short story collection Homesick for Another World and a novella, McGlue. Her most recent novel, Lapvona, was released in 2022. She lives in southern California.
Photo credit: Krystal Griffiths
Samanta Schweblin is the 2022 National Book Award for Translated Literature winner for her latest story collection, Seven Empty Houses. Her debut novel, Fever Dream, was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, and her novel Little Eyes and story collection A Mouthful of Birds have been longlisted for the same prize. She was chosen by Granta as one of the twenty-two best writers in Spanish under thirty-five. Her books have been translated into over forty languages. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Electric Literature, etc. Originally from Buenos Aires, Schweblin lives in Berlin.
Photo credit: Suhrkamp Verlag II
Alejandro Zambra was born in Santiago, Chile. He is the author of Chilean Poet, Multiple Choice, Not to Read, My Documents, Ways of Going Home, The Private Lives of Trees, and Bonsai. In Chile, he has won the National Book Council Award for best novel three times. In English, he has won the English PEN Award and the PEN/O. Henry Prize. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and his stories have been published in the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s and Harper’s. He teaches creative writing and Hispanic literature and currently lives in Mexico City.
Photo credit: Ana Hop
Desperate Literature is incredibly grateful to our principal prize partner, The de Groot Foundation.
Without their diligent and constant support, the prize wouldn’t exist.
We would like to thank our residency providers Civitella Ranieri & Studio Faire:
And we couldn’t offer such wonderful opportunities for publishing without the amazing literary magazines and entities that also offer their support:
We are also incredibly grateful to be able to partner with Spread the Word, Helter Skelter, and The Literary Consultancy to offer sponsored places to their communities: