Awards: Based in Spain, Desperate Literature Opens Its 2022 Prize Program

In News by Porter Anderson

The 2022 edition of the Madrid-based Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction offers a long-form manuscript consultation and more.

In Umbertide, near the Civitella Ranieri, site of the week’s residency offered to the winning writer in the Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction program. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Valerio Mei

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Deadline for Submissions: April 1
In opening the 2022 Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction, the Madrid-based organizers of the program tell Publishing Perspectives that they have a newly arranged partnership with the United Kingdom’s Literary Consultancy. What’s interesting about that is that the consultancy link will offer the 2022 winner of the competition a long-form manuscript assessment—for a winner in short-form writings—and “editorial consultancy service” as part of the prize package.

The real draw here is the annual offer of a week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation’s 15th-century castle in Umbria for the winner and the chance for a shortlisted writer to have a residency at Tbilisi’s Writers’ House of Georgia as well as access to the Tbilisi International Literature Festival, known well to our readers for its leadership from Gvantsa Jobava.

And the really interesting element of this program is who’s behind it. Desperate Literature is a joint project between Craig Walzer, Corey Eastwood, Charlotte Delattre, and Terry Craven. In addition to the Madrid store, between them they own Atlantis Books on Santorini and Brooklyn’s Book Thug Nation and Human Relations.

Desperate Literature’s comparatively small prize program—see our story today about the PROSE Awards if you’d like to see a comparatively big prize program—was created in 2017 in Madrid “to celebrate writers of innovative, experimental and boundary-pushing fiction in the English language, while providing these writers with a holistic set of resources and opportunities at a formative stage of their writing careers.”

This year’s package of benefits offered to shortlistees and a winner includes:

  • €1500 for the winner (US$1,691) and €750 each for two runners-up (US$845)
  • A week-long stay at the Civitella Ranieri artist residency program for the overall winner
  • A residency at the Writers’ House of Georgia, Tbilisi, and a spot at the Tbilisi International Literature Festival for a shortlisted writer chosen by the Writers’ House team
  • A consultation with the London-based literary agent Charlotte Seymour of Johnson & Alcock for the winner and each runner-up
  • A fully-funded manuscript assessment and accompanying editorial consultation, all online, with the Literary Consultancy
  • Print publication in our prize anthology, Eleven Stories–all contributions are paid and rights remain with the writer
  • An invitation to take part in events in Madrid, Edinburgh, and London, pending coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic conditions
  • Publication opportunities in print and online for shortlisted writers with partner journals, each of which has the chance to choose a story from the shortlist to publish

In 2021, the journals Desperate Literature partnered with were Helter Skelter (India), The London Magazine (UK), Open Pen (UK), Prototype (UK), Hote(UK), Gorse (Ireland), Kill Your Darlings (Australia), and Minor Literature[s] (UK) for those selected publications from the shortlist.

And the program is reporting success among its past honorees. “In 2019,” the award’s media messaging reads, “the prize was won by then-unpublished author Francesca Reece, who in 2021 published her debut novel Voyeur with Tinder Press.

“That year’s runner-up Shola Von Reinhold went on to win the Republic of Consciousness Prize and the James Tait Black Prize for the debut novel LOTE (Jacaranda, 2020).”

2022 Desperate Fiction Jurors Announced

Jurors in the 2022 Desperate Literature program are, from left, Natasha Brown, Anton Hur, Otessa Moshfegh, and Joanna Walsh

The jurors for the 2022 cycle of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize—now in its fifth year—are:

  • Author Joanna Walsh
  • Author Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Translator Anton Hur
  • Author Natasha Brown

The program makes at least 20 free entries available for “under-represented writers or writers suffering financial hardship.” Otherwise an initial entry is €20 and subsequent entries are €10 each.

Submissions, which must be of fewer than 2,000 words, are due by April 1. As with all competitions–especially those in which writers directly submit their work–we advise entrants to read all terms and conditions very carefully.

At the Civitella Ranieri in Umbertide. The Desperate Literature Prize includes a residency at the venue for its winner. Image: Civitella Ranieri

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Spanish market is here. More from us on publishing and book prizes is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.