Book Club: Prize for story set at Morecambe hotel

David Constantine.
David Constantine.

Morecambe’s iconic Midland Hotel features in the title story of a collection which has won an international award.

David Constantine has just been awarded the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award – the world’s richest prize for a short story collection – for his book ‘Tea at the Midland’.

The story focuses on a couple who are having an affair and meeting in secret at the Midland Hotel, which is this year celebrating its 80th anniversary.

They start to argue at the table over whether or not you can enjoy Eric Gill’s art considering his questionable past.

The Midland story was also the winner of the 2010 BBC National Short Story Award and the full collection has been highly-praised by the national press.

‘Tea at the Midland’ was selected for the Books of the Year 2012 list by the Times Literary Supplement and the London Evening Standard, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in January in a five-part series.

Salford-born Constantine, who was previously shortlisted for the award in 2010, is the first English writer ever to receive the award.

He joins an illustrious company of previous winners including Haruki Murakami, Miranda July and Edna O’Brien. Constantine beat a shortlist of six authors including Joyce Carol Oates and Deborah Levy to claim the €25,000 prize, which he will be presented with later this year at an award ceremony at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September.

This year’s jury consisted of non-voting chair Patrick Cotter, Award Director; John F. Deane, poet & short story writer; Cathy Galvin, founder of the Sunday Times Short Story Award; and Brigid Hughes, former executive editor of The Paris Review.

Now in its ninth year, the Cork City – Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award is an annual award in memory of the late Frank O’Connor, one of the world’s most renowned short story writers.

‘Tea at the Midland’ was published by Comma Press in October.