University of Southern Queensland Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection

2021 Shortlist

Congratulations to the finalists!

Ordinary Matter by Laura Elvery (University of Queensland Press)  

Judges' comments 

The stories in Elvery’s second collection are elegant, inventive, and often deeply touching. Each takes a person or a process – framed, to varying degrees, by the lives and discoveries of the women scientists who have won Nobel prizes – as its starting point and runs with it, observing in superb detail the contours of the worlds and experiences that unfold.

Smokehouse by Melissa Manning (University of Queensland Press)  

Judges' comments 

Smokehouse renders the interior worlds of its many, often personally connected characters with the same care and rich detail as the Tasmanian coast they inhabit. Treading a line between short story collection and novel, Manning’s gentle yet striking prose reveals a small community in all its fractured, tense, luminous sadness and joy. A powerful debut.

Smart Ovens for Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan (Brio Books)

Judges' comments

In her second collection, Tan ranges across stylistic devices, cultural references, and bold premises with a deft hand and a wildly inventive mind. These stories are as offbeat and experimental as they are insightful and timely. Tan takes a format that can be withdrawn and arcane and makes it sing, finding humour and humanity in unlikely places.

Born Into This by Adam Thompson (University of Queensland Press)

Judges' comments 

Born Into This is brimming with feeling and purpose. It is a loving ode to the natural world, and a demand to bear witness to its destruction. It is a touching evocation of human connection, and a startling reminder of the cruelty we inflict on each other. A compelling debut collection made vibrant and original through Thompson’s lively voice.

Broken Rules and Other Stories by Barry Lee Thompson (Transit Lounge)

Judges' comments

A surprising debut collection, Broken Rules and Other Stories presents characters that are intimately knowable, even while their motivations might not be. Scenarios that are held at just the right distance to draw the reader in. These stories of unspoken desire and concealed histories trace the complexities of being human in the world with tenderness, wisdom, and delightful understatement.