Moso Sematlane Wins The Stinging Fly/FBA Fiction Prize 2024

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Sematlane was announced as the winner of the award at the launch event for the Summer 2024 issue at International Literature Festival Dublin on May 18th.

Sematlane’s winning story, A Fern Between Rocks, was his first ever published story, and appeared in Issue 48 Volume Two of The Stinging Fly, published in Summer 2023. The story is now available to read on the website along with a new author’s note.

Established in 2022, the €2000 prize, sponsored by Felicity Bryan Associates, is awarded annually to an emerging fiction writer published in The Stinging Fly during the previous year.

Judging the 2024 prize were author Mike McCormack (Solar Bones), Stinging Fly contributing editor and author Mia Gallagher (Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland) and Felicity Bryan agent, Caroline Wood. The panel was chaired by Felicity Bryan agent, Angelique Tran Van Sang, and Eoin Rogers, Programme Manager of The Stinging Fly. Awarding the prize, the judges stated:

A Fern Between Rocks is an exquisitely written story about a young man, newly arrived in Lesotho, obsessing over a man he spies in a jazz club. Atmospheric, transporting, subtle, touching and full of longing – it is an incredibly mature piece of writing with a wonderful sense of place.

This story grows with each reading. A thing of immense beauty, spiked with shocks so subtle it takes a moment to realise what’s just happened. Like jazz itself, it circles with great delicacy around its themes – war, manhood, desire, loss, the need for belonging and the power, perhaps, of art to knit together the impossible in a way that makes sense, if only for a moment.”

Accepting the prize, Moso Sematlane said:

“Receiving this award came as a total surprise to me, being published in The Stinging Fly last year was already a highlight, now receiving an award for that story just blew my expectations off the roof. I am glad and deeply honoured to have this story recognised in this way. I had the best time writing it, so witnessing how it is still moving in the world is a source of great satisfaction for me. It no longer belongs to me in the way it once did, but I am honoured that short fiction from Lesotho can be recognised on such a big scale.”

The judges also highly commended two other stories: Stars by Greg Thorpe and The Big Why by Brendan Killeen.

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Congratulations to Moso Sematlane on this remarkable achievement!

Bongiwe T. Maphosa

Bongiwe T. Maphosa

Bongiwe Maphosa is a budding author with a passion for storytelling. With her thought-provoking narratives, she takes her readers on a literary adventure. Bongiwe's works on the human condition from a fresh perspective have earned her recognition and publications in the Avbob Poetry Anthology of 2019, The Writer's Club of South Africa 2021, and JAY Lit in 2021. She hopes to cement her place in the literary community.