Podcast: Me & George Saunders

How Short is a Short Story?

This event was recorded at BBC 3’s Free Thinking Festival with Jenn Ashworth and Kirsty Logan last year and you can listen to (and download) an edited version of that here. It was a highlight of my career to share a stage with one of my writing heroes – George Saunders. It also has an interview with Geroge included.

You can read an interview I did with George while there, in The Irish Times.

George and me BBC 3

Watch me on Sky Arts

It seems this has been the year of scaring the bejesus out of myself (see recording the BBC show on the novel).  The Sky Arts Arts 50  was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. I was commissioned to write a short story set in the future (a first for me), having to learn the story (I managed mostly), perform it live at the Barbican Centre in front of an audience and having that recorded and shown on Sky Arts television… yikes!

I watched it for the first time this week – it took me a few months to build up the courage to watch myself.

Here’s a little on what the piece is about…

“With four counties out of a six county state voting Remain and a ruling party that was pro-Leave, Brexit was the final straw for a people kept stuck within boundaries and tribalism by its politicians, who regularly ignored their rights and votes. In Paul’s imagined future Northern Ireland’s forward-thinking people look back at the whole idea of nationalism as a barely-believable thing of the past.”

You can watch me perform the story here.


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Me & Kit de Waal at Durham Book Festival

Common People Celebration

Durham Book Festival

6th October

If you’re near Durham this should be a wonderful event. Please come along. I have a piece in the anthology called ‘Night of the Hunchback’.

Common People” is a collection of essays, poems and memoir, which celebrate the depth and texture of working-class life. The collection brings together established and emerging writers who redefine what it means to be working-class.

At this special event we’ll gather a selection of the contributors in the Miners’ Hall – Durham’s own  ‘pitman’s parliament’ – to read from their work and discuss their experiences as working-class writers. We’ll also be premiering a short film from emerging Durham writer, Louise Powell, inspired by her childhood experiences at Easington dog track.

Kit de Waal is the author of My Name is Leon and The Trick to Time and the editor of Common People. Kit and Louise will be joined by emerging writers Adam Sharp and Jodie Russian-Red and acclaimed author Paul McVeigh, whose novel The Good Son won the Polari Prize.

Chaired by John Mitchinson, Unbound



‘Best Short Story Collections of 2019’

‘Being Various’ Best Short Story Collections of 2019

in The Independent

Great news for ‘Being Various: New Irish Short Stories’ edited by Lucy Caldwell, published by Faber & Faber which is one of the 10 Best Short Story Collections of 2019 according to The Independent.

“Our roundup features the best short story collections released so far this year. We were looking for works which felt of the moment but whose shine wouldn’t fade years from now – writing we felt could be described as modern classics.”

And what’s more, they said: “if you are looking for variety – or a range of voices and themes in one book, we’d suggest plumping for “Being Various” in which all of the stories are truly outstanding pieces of fiction in completely different ways.’

Brilliant news for editor Lucy Caldwell in particular.

I was delighted to read I was one of only a handful of stories they picked out alongside Yan Ge,  Daniell McLaughlin, Louise O’Neill and Sally Rooney.

“Each story jolts you far from the previous one. “The Swimmers” (written by me) is a queasy, uncomfortable read given that the narrator is the young, naïve son of a paedophile who drives young boys to their swimming lessons in a smelly old bus.”




Short Story Evening at Salisbury Literary Festival: Irenosen Okojie, Susmita Bhattacharya & Me

I’m doing another event at Salisbury Literary Festival (the other is a class here). I hope some you can come along.


Short Story Evening: Irenosen Okojie, Susmita Bhattacharya & Paul McVeigh

OCTOBER 19, 2019 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM 


“Rounding off a packed day of events, join us at Culture Coffee and settle back with a glass of wine (included in the ticket price) for an evening of fabulous short stories in the company of the award-winning authors, Irenosen Okojie, Susmita Bhattacharya and Paul McVeigh

Irenosen Okojie’s debut novel, Butterfly Fish, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Edinburgh First Book Award. Her first short story collection, Speak Gigantular was shortlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Irenosen was recently made a fellow of The Royal Society Of Literature as part of their 40 Under 40 initiative. Her latest short story collection, Nudibranch is published in November by Dialogue Books.

Susmita Bhattacharya is an author and a creative writing tutor at Winchester University. Her short stories have been internationally published, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Susmita’s collection of short stories, Table Manners, was published in 2018 by Dahlia Publishing and was the winner of the best short story collection at this year’s Saboteur Awards.

Paul McVeigh’s debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. He is co-founder of London Short Story Festival and has judged national and international literary prizes. Paul’s short stories have appeared in Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers and Being Various: New Irish Short Stories.”


“I devoured it in a day, but I’ve thought about it for many, many more.”
Bailey’s Prize-winner Lisa McInerney
“A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.”
Donal Ryan

The Swimmers Review on RTE

It’s a wonderful surprise when you’re looking online for something and you come along a review of your work, even a brief mention. Below is a review of my short story on the RTE website. If you follow that link you can read a review of the other stories in the anthology too.

“Paul McVeigh’s The Swimmers skirts in a sly, punctilious way around the subject of molestation without ever making it explicit. An eager-to-please dad elects, with perhaps too much enthusiasm, to drive young teenage lads to a swimming baths on a regular basis as his own son tries to come to terms with his fear of water.”



Polari Prize Shortlist Announced

As a previous winner of The Polari First Novel Prize I was asked to judge the inaugural Polari Prize, founded by the amazing Paul Burston.

The shortlist has been announced in The Bookseller.

-1970s tale Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale (Tinder); novel Prodigal by Charles Lambert (Gallic); gay drama A Simple Scale by David Llewellyn (Seren); childhood-set Playtime by Andrew McMillan (Cape Poetry) and Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Granta), which tells the story of a teenage Silvie living in a hut in Northumberland, will go head to head with Bradbury for the Polari Prize.

Commenting on the Polari Prize, author and judge Paul McVeigh said: “What a rich and diverse body of LGBT themed work we had to read for this inaugural Polari Book of the Year. It was hard to select just 6 for this shortlist from work of such high quality.”-



Me receiving the Polari Frist Novel Prize