The Short Fiction Contest

Eve Gleichman Wins 2016 KR Short Fiction Contest

We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the ninth annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest.

  • First Prize: Eve Gleichman, “Butter”
  • Runner-up: Dan Reiter, “Dance of the Old Century”
  • Runner-up: Adam Soto, “The Babymoon”
  • Honorable Mention: Geeta Tewari, “How I Became a Man”; Teresa Scollon, “Christmas Eve”

Judge Jaimy Gordon writes:

“Butter” is more minimalist in language and mundane in milieu than the kinds of fiction I usually incline to, but a certain gutsy integrity (integrity being a fictional illusion like any other) won me over. The voice the author has developed for the story is flat, terse, hypnotic, almost whispered; and it feels intensely candid. This is a work story, but not precisely about work. Rather, the narrator lets us in on an epoch of repeated humiliation under a sadistic boss that she experiences as almost a victory in a time of erotic heartbreak. There’s a pattern of self- and other-disgust, while many images of heat, melting, burning, flash by. These sophisticated paradoxes explode into an ending—unresolved yet satisfying—that I didn’t see coming. Is the narrator’s ride on a motorcycle behind her hated boss an act of ecstatic communion or of despair and self-immolation? It’s both, of course. The story’s surprises show abundantly how confessional realism, to be effective, requires as much imagination as any other fictional approach.

“Dance of the Old Century”: I both like and am embarrassed (in a good way) by this fragmented fictional meditation on time, vanity, anxiety, and the peculiar relations that take place between public and private in even the most intimate recesses of the so-called self. The setting is Paris, as it is now, since the terrorist attacks, and as it was such a little while ago, in what the protagonist perceives as the ecstatic, even orgasmic, innocence of the end of the “old” century, when he frequented dance bars like l’Enfer and the Bataclan. In the new century he has grown a beard, ethnic or stylish, that worries him—what do others see in it? He is married now, with a child—is it he or Paris that is so changed? Literally central to the story is a deft small scene from the “old” century in which he follows two Arab boys off a metro to a desolate playground in Vanves, on the outskirts, to score hashish—with an easy daring that would be impossible now.

“The Babymoon”: Shruti and Ana, a lesbian couple, have traveled to Pondicherry (and are headed for Sri Lanka) to celebrate their future pregnancy, planned for immediately after they return. Every turn of this image-rich, lush, prismatic excursion into lyrical realism—one traveler’s “stomach thing,” the other’s choice to go out alone, the unsettling sight of a flooded museum, losing each other in monsoon rain—turns out to have been a (failed) test of the devotion and readiness for self-sacrifice of its two protagonists. The story reveals poignantly how unready the two are, or rather, fear that they are, to become a perfect family. Their dilemma is illuminated by myth when the two women land by chance at a children’s performance of a tale from the Ramayana, concerning the services the marvelously loyal and helpful Hindu monkey god Hanuman renders to Rama—just as the story reaches its delicately uncertain denouement.

The winner and runners-up will be published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of The Kenyon Review and will appear concurrently on KROnline in January 2017.

2017 Guidelines

Welcome to the 2017 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest!

The contest is open to all writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Submissions must be 1,200 words or fewer. The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short story in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2017 Writers Workshop in Gambier, Ohio. Additional info on the Writers Workshop is available here.

Submission Guidelines

  • Writers must not have published a book of fiction at the time of submission. (We define a “published book of fiction” as a novel, novella or short story collection written by you and published by someone other than you in print, on the web, or in ebook format.)
  • Stories must be no more than 1,200 words in length.
  • One submission per entrant.
  • Please do not simultaneously submit your contest entry to another magazine or contest.
  • Please do not submit work that has been previously published.
  • All entries will be read blind. Before you submit, please remove your name and any other identifying information from your manuscript.
  • The submissions link will be active January 1st to 31st. All work must be submitted through our electronic system. We cannot accept paper submissions.
  • A $20 entry fee will be collected at the time of submission. Your new subscription to The Kenyon Review will start with the Mar/Apr 2017 issue. Current subscribers will receive a one-year extension on their current subscription. Please note: we are only able to offer domestic print subscriptions for this special contest rate. If you live overseas, we will happily fulfill a digital subscription.
  • Winners will be announced in the late spring. You will receive an e-mail notifying you of any decisions regarding your work.

Submit Now

Click here to view the past winners of the KR Short Fiction Contest

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter