Thursday, June 7, 2018


Beatrix Turán takes second;
Jessica Sofizade, Simon Botten are both third

BRNO, Czech Republic — John Derhak has won the Second Annual Brno Short Story Writing Contest with his story “Over the Fields under Bile Karpaty” about jazz and Cold War espionage. He earns the top prize: 6,000 kc.

Second place and 2,000kc goes to Beatrix Turán for “The Encounter”. And, after a generous donation to make it possible, two stories tied for third place and receive 1,000kc each: “What If Mo Stood For Moses” by Jessica Sofizade and “Out of the Box” by Simon Botten. Seven additional stories were given Honorable Mention.

The contest attracted writers from many different backgrounds. Non-native speakers made up a large part of the contestants, including more than half of the recognized stories, showing the growing level of English fluency within the Brno community.

Derhak, born in Canada and raised in the United States, was inspired by a day trip to Mikulov and his discovery that jazz legend Karel Krautgartner was from there. The story is set in 1988 during the Cold War, includes several characters with mysterious motivations and revolves around a strange piece of sheet music named ““Over the Fields under Bile Karpaty”. His own description: “This is a story of unexpected encounters, with a little jazz, one hot potato, a dash of stealth, and a promise kept.”

“The Encounter,” by Beatrix Turán, a Hungarian who lives and works in Brno as a technical writer, is a relationship-based story about two strangers meeting on a beach.

Both third-place stories were by natives of Enland: “What If Mo Stood For Moses, by Jessica Sofizade is about the relgious and political ramifications of love and death and “Out of the Box” by Simon Botten is a thriller.

The free contest attracted 51 entries. Every entry had to include the theme “Out of the Box” in some significant way. There was only one entry per person. The short stories had to be in English and 2,500 words or less. The deadline was April 30 at midnight. The original prize pool was 9,000kc, but another 1,000kc was added by an anonymous donation to allow for the third-place tie.

Seven entries were awarded honorable mention, listed in alphabetical order:
• Gravity, by Jan Suda
• Jack, by Rita Collins
• Nice to Meet You, Valerie, by Silvia Divékyová
• The Cerna Pole Kid, by Yiğit Tokgöz
• The Moon In the Sky, the Stars and I’ll Die, by Inga Morawski
• The Last Time, by Jack Stephens
• Unrequited Love, by Veronika Jirků

Morawski earned Honorable Mention in the 2017 contest with “The Endless Renouncement of Feelings.”

All of the award-winning stories and the honorable mention entries are available at

The jury included a cross-section of local cultural icons and writing enthusiasts: Don Sparling, a co-founder of the Brno Expat Centre and a longtime leader in the local expat and Masaryk University communities; Tomáš Kačer, a teacher in the Department of English and American Studies at MU and a translator; Anna Formánková, a translator and a book editor at MOBA Publishing House; and contest co-founder and Brno Writers Group co-founder Lee Adams, the At the Movies blogger for the Brno Expat Centre.

Each story had to include the theme “Out of the Box” in some significant way. The story was the most important aspect, including writing, originality, character development, and plot development. It was understood that most of the entrants would not be native English speakers and that, in fact, this may have been their first attempt to write creatively in English. All entrants should have endeavored to adhere to the rules of English; however, spelling and grammar were not critical for success.

Brno Daily ( and the Brno Expat Centre ( were both media sponsors of the Brno Short Story Writing Contest.

The Brno Short Story Writing Contest was made possible by anonymous donations.

For more information, go to the contest websites at or . Or send an email to the contest administrator, Bruno Zalubil, at . 

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