Sally Rooney, a Trinity College alumnus who graduated in 2013, has been shortlisted for the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. Rooney, aged 25, will also have her debut novel, “Conversations with Friends”, released in June. According the Irish Times, it will be published by Faber after the company outbid six other publishers for the rights to the book. The book has been sold to 11 international publishers to date.
The award is both the richest and considered the most prestigious for an English-language single short story. Rooney is alongside elite company in being shortlisted including Bret Anthony Johnston, director of creative writing at Harvard University and author of the bestselling novel Remember Me Like This.
Speaking to Trinity News about the achievement, Rooney said: “I’m delighted to be included among such wonderful writers. I thought all the longlisted stories were of a very high quality this year so it’s a particular privilege to see my work on the shortlist.”
This year’s judges include Booker Prize-winning author Anne Enright, and broadcaster and author Mark Lawson. The shortlisted works shall each be read at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London on April 26 with the winner announced at Stationers’ Hall on April 27. Each of the five runners-up shall receive £1,000 each. Readers can access the shortlisted entries, one a day, from March 20, at the prize’s website shortstoryaward.co.uk.
During her time as an English literature student, Sally Rooney wrote for Trinity News and was heavily involved in competitive debating with the College Historical Society, finishing as top speaker at the European University Debating Championships in 2013. In an interview with the Guardian in January of this year, she cited the influence debating had on her approach to her first novel.
In “Conversations with Friends”, which explores “ambiguous relationships”, Rooney related to the “exploring (of) concepts in language” which she believes debating and writing share. Since debating is based around binary choices, “there is no ambiguous position. And I think that might have actually helped me to critique that approach”. Rooney also completed a master’s degree in American Literature in Trinity.