Winter 2021 winners


Fearful Symmetry by Holly Barratt


Fearful Symmetry
by Holly Barratt


by Daniel Draper


Sticks and Stones
by Elizabeth Smith

Highly commended

Ready the Heart by Lynsey May

The Mycologist by Louis Rossi

Barking Mad by Richard Frost

A striking feature of these weird and wondrous stories is how deeply they seem brewed in the last, endless year. I don’t mean that in a literal sense: hardly any refer to the pandemic. But many of them are about vulnerability; characters bear wounds, caused by strange weapons. In one story, words literally pierce skin: many others concern the damage words inflict.

These stories are bizarre, sad, brutal, menacing. They are full of dread, but also, like the stranger in one story who clutches a grieving mother, full of tenderness. A persistent theme is transformation: sisters turn into tigers, babies are born as half-human, hybrid creatures. These authors seem conscious that the world is, simultaneously, stunned still and also becoming unrecognizable, and they attempt to capture it in the middle of that shape-shift.

Kim Magowan

There was some truly exceptional writing in the stories submitted to the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize. Among the shortlisted entries, some lines shone out with such dazzling clarity that I found myself wanted to underline them, or maybe print them on a t-shirt. Many presented an adroitness that first led you in one direction, and then deposited you on an entirely different journey. I was struck by the originality of the stories and the assurance of the authors who effortlessly persuaded me to suspend disbelief time and again. 

Judy Darley