The London Magazine Short Story Prize 2023 awards first place to Niamh Mac Cabe after her story FOUR NIGHT SEAS stunned our panel of judges.
Submissions were read anonymously by our panel of judges, Tom Conaghan (publisher of Scratch Books), Eley Williams (author of Attrib. and Other Stories and Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good), R.Z Baschir (winner of the White Review Short Story Prize 2021 and winner of the PEN America/Robert J Dau Prize 2022 for Emerging Writers) and Andrew Holgate (former literary editor of the Sunday Times and part-time associate agent at Andrew Nurnberg).
Niamh Mac Cabe is a visual artist and writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid prose, published in numerous journals and anthologies including The London Magazine, Narrative Magazine, The Stinging Fly, Mslexia, The Offing, Southword, The Irish Independent, No Alibis Press, Aesthetica, Lighthouse, Sagging Meniscus, and Structo.
She has previously won several awards, including the Wasafiri Prize, John McGahern Award, and Molly Keane Award, and placed or been shortlisted in several contests including the Costa Short Story Award, SoA’s ALCS Tom Gallon Trust Award, Glimmer Train Press Award, American Short Fiction’s Prize, Harvard Review’s Chapbook Prize, New Ohio Review’s Editor’s Award, Lit Mag’s Virginia Woolf Award, and Masters Review Flash Contest.
‘In FOUR NIGHT SEAS, I try to capture the oddness inherent in fiction-writing, in the elusive and cryptic act of storytelling itself,’ Niamh says about her winning story. ‘My attempt involves presenting conflicting versions of a singular fictitious event as if I am stuttering my way through a false confession, only to break at the end. I am so grateful to this year’s esteemed judges for plucking FOUR NIGHT SEAS out of what I know to be a tremendous pool of shortlisted stories.
‘Thank you, judges, and thank you to The London Magazine, one of my all-time favourite literary journals and one about which T.S. Elliot so wisely said: “a magazine that will boldly assume the existence of a public interested in serious literature”! (italics my own!).’
Tom Conaghan tells us: ‘I was hugely impressed by the astounding vision and subtle control in Niamh’s winning story, FOUR NIGHT SEAS. She unpicks the threads of a linear narrative to weave something mercurial and enticing and vast. The relationship of its parts are soft and fluid, refracting a slim moment to splay all its whispers, echoes and glimpses; they lap at us and gently erode our experience of the now. (I also warm to any story that hints at its own lofty goal, As Niamh herself writes: “trying to do the inexplicable justice…”).’

The full list of winners includes:

First place: FOUR NIGHT SEAS – Niamh Mac Cabe

Second place: Of Milky Kindness – Sarah Fletcher

‘There’s an excitement and sense of full-circle-ness that comes with winning second place for my short story,’ Sarah says. ‘The London Magazine was one of the first places to ever publish a poem of mine — in 2009, when I was 14. Now, it’s the the first place to have published my creative prose. I’m thrilled by this unexpected win, especially from such talented and esteemed judges, and can’t wait to read the work of the other winners. Time to pop some bubbly and dance to Duran Duran around my flat!’

Third place:  Consultation – Leeor Ohayon

Leeor says: ‘I’m so happy to have made it into the top three. Consultation was very much an experiment, and I’m just thrilled that it was so well-received by the judges.’

As well as receiving prizes of £500, £300 and £200 respectively, the winners are to be published in the upcoming December/January issue of The London Magazine. For more information regarding the print edition, visit our single issues catalogue.

The full shortlist, including those highly commended, is as follows:

The Point of Whales by Richard Smyth, Consultation by Leeor Ohayon, Of Milky Kindness by Sarah Fletcher, Heads of State by Richie Jones, The Literary Event by Naomi Morris, FOUR NIGHT SEAS by Niamh Mac Cabe, Strange Day in Berlin by Gráinne O’Hare, and Avoid Getting Shot in the Head by Gary Grace.

The response this year was overwhelming, and we would like to thank everyone who entered the competition.

To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.