The Irish writer, who also won the £10,000 Prize in 2013, commended his competitors as “brilliant” and described the Edge Hill Prize as playing a “critical role in advancing and promoting the short story form”.
“It feels like an especially unlikely turn of luck to win the Prize a second time,” he said. “There were brilliant story writers on both the short list and long list so I’m very grateful to the judges.”
Kevin, from County Sligo, won the award for That Old Country Music (Canongate), the latest in a long list of accolades including the International Dublin Literary Award, The Goldsmiths Prize and The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Prize; his novel Night Boat to Tangier was longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.
“I think the short story is a sacred form,” he added. “There’s nothing more intense for the reader than to be in the hands of a great story and there’s nothing more difficult for a writer to get right.”
The unique Edge Hill Prize, founded in 2006, is the only annually-presented award for a published, single-authored collection of short stories in the UK and Ireland, and it has attracted entries from the best new and established writers every year since.
Prize organiser Billy Cowan, senior lecturer in Creative Writing, said Kevin’s second win “attests to the quality of Barry’s sublime work”.
“What we love about his writing is that he makes it seem so easy; the lyrical ebb and flow of his sentences are deceptively simple, but beautiful.”
Newcomer Alice Ash said she was “honoured, elated and completely shocked” to have won the £1,000 Reader’s Choice Award, chosen by staff and students at Edge Hill University, for Paradise Block (Serpent’s Tail/Profile).
“Having published Paradise Block into the depths of the pandemic, I haven’t had a huge amount of engagement with readers and I sometimes felt like maybe I’d dreamt the whole thing.
“Hearing that I’d won the prize made the whole experience come alive for me – it has been incredibly fulfilling and I’m so grateful to the readers for selecting my book.
“As the Edge Hill Prize was the most prestigious short story prize I’d ever heard of, I wanted to nervously throw my hat in and I’m so glad I did because this has been a very happy and nourishing experience for me.”
Billy commended Alice’s “dark, compelling imagination”. “This is a writer to look out for and I’m sure her next work will be very special indeed.”
The third winner was Kashyap Raja, a Creative Writing Masters student at Edge Hill who won the MA Prize for Epiphany.
Billy added: “At the beginning of your career a prize like the MA Prize can help young writers gain their first step in publishing, so Kashyap will hopefully go now from strength to strength.”
The Edge Hill Prize was founded in 2006 by the world’s first Professor of Short Fiction, Ailsa Cox, to highlight the intricate artisanship of short story writing and acknowledge the wealth of published collections available.
Edge Hill has a long-established track record in Creative Writing at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and the degrees on offer promise a challenging and innovative programme to stretch abilities and encourage independence.