May 2, 2016 — 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.
May 4, 2015 — Shasta Grant Wins 2015 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the eighth annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest.
- First Prize: Shasta Grant, “Most Likely To”
- Runner-up: Rob Howell, “Mars or Elsewhere”
- Runner-up: Courtney Sender, “Black Harness”
Judge Ann Patchett writes:
In “Most Likely To,” Shasta Grant delivers a full narrative arc in four pages. Her characters experienced loss and were changed by it, a pretty remarkable feat to pull off in such a small space. Perfectly chosen details made both the characters and the setting memorable. This was the story that stayed with me.
Robert Howell gives us a completely delightful flight of imagination in “Mars or Elsewhere”. In dealing with a lover’s fantasy of what could happen were the couple to run off together, he creates a wild and atmospheric riff on possibility that read like jazz.
Courtney Sender matches the light topic of youthful lost love with the extreme heft of the Holocaust in “Black Harness” and comes up with a miraculous balance between the personal and the universal. I never could have imagined where this story was going and I was pleased by the surprise.
The winner and runners-up will be published in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of The Kenyon Review and will appear concurrently on KROnline in January 2015.
May 6, 2014 — Amy Blakemore Wins 2014 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the seventh annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest.
- First Prize: Amy Victoria Blakemore, “Previously, Sparrows”
- Runner-up: Michael Capel, “Florida Arizona Buffalo Hawaii”
- Runner-up: Frank Fucile, “Slow and Steady”
- Honorable Mention: Jennifer Genest, “Ways to Prepare White Perch”; Landon Houle, “My Mother, Aged 58, Tattoos Her Face”; and Carrie Mullins, “The Last Supper”
Judge Katharine Weber writes:
Each of this year’s Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest winners offers a splendid instance of the power of short fiction to astonish, move, and delight the reader.
The winner of this year’s Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, “Previously, Sparrows” by Amy Blakemore, is an inventive and compelling portrait of a relationship that reveals itself, sentence by graceful sentence, to be much more than a catalogue of domestic argument and reconciliation. The familiar territories of kitchen table and supermarket become uncommon and significant in this rich and strange narrative.
Runner-up story “Florida Arizona Buffalo Hawaii” by Michael Capel is a nuanced evocation of the intimacy and estrangement of boyhood friendships. Runner-up story “Slow and Steady” by Frank Fucile is a father-and-son narrative that excavates family history with its unalloyed language and rhythms of pick and shovel digging into the past.
This year, we are delighted to name three stories that have earned an Honorable Mention in the Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest: “Ways to Prepare White Perch” by Jennifer Genest, “My Mother, Aged 58, Tattoos Her Face” by Landon Houle, and “The Last Supper” by Carrie Mullins.
The winner and runners-up will be published in the Winter 2015 issue of The Kenyon Review and will appear concurrently on KROnline in January 2015.
May 7, 2013 — Heather Monley Wins 2013 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the sixth annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest.
- First Prize: Heather Monley, “Town of Birds”
- Runner-up: Wes Holtermann, “Hurricane”
- Runner-up: Clarke Clayton, “Sculptures”
Judge Katharine Weber writes:
This year’s Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest winners are an impressive trio. The irresistible qualities of these confident and successful narratives made them prominent in a strong field of contenders.
The winner of this year’s Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, “Town of Birds” by Heather Monley, is an astonishing swoop of language and image. Reading the first words— “In the town where the children turned into birds”—I was chilled and delighted. Where can we go from here? Deep into an incredible story of a town’s uncanny transformation, told by the child who has been left behind, a wistful narrator whose disturbing, elegiac account is an utterly extraordinary work of art. Most successful short fiction has something pleasingly familiar yet inventive that draws us in. “Town of Birds” is a quietly spectacular flight of imagination.
Runner-up story “Hurricane” by Wes Holtermann is a potent road trip tale of subtle transformation, set in an alienated and rain-drenched landscape during a time of bizarre plagues. Runner-up story “Sculptures” by Clarke Clayton is a graceful story that begins with a vivid description of young women being seen yet not seen by a sculptor, and it concludes years later when those women return themselves with a surprising inevitability to that clay.
All three authors were published in the Winter 2014 issue of The Kenyon Review and appeared concurrently on KROnline in December 2013.
May 8, 2012 — Cassie Gonzales Wins 2012 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the fifth annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest.
- First Prize: Cassie Gonzales, “Sleeping Out”
- Runner-up: Andrea Dulanto, “Winter Clothes”
- Runner-up: Madiha Sattar, “Home”
In her comments on Gonzales’s story, Nancy Zafris wrote: “The foreignness of a foreign locale illumines the existential dislocation an old man experiences in this quiet, bravura story. Into just-enough plot are fed a succession of life’s accumulating small sadnesses, the kind of sorrow that can’t be quickly telegraphed—and yet the author does just that. Characters are well-drawn in a single, masterful stroke. The story is evocative, fully amplified, and wise.”
All three authors were published in the Winter 2013 issue of The Kenyon Review and appeared concurrently on KROnline in December 2012.
May 9, 2011 — Fan Li Wins 2011 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the fourth annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, for writers under the age of thirty.
- First Prize: Fan Li, “Chiasmus”
- Runner-up: Anna Kovatcheva, “September”
- Runner-up: Nichols Malick, “The Boy in the Lake”
In his comments on Li’s story, Ron Carlson wrote: “This story dances along its deft surface, a mother keeping track of her son’s travels with a lovely curiosity, which slowly gathers into the long submerged concern about their history. This story has heart and it reveals a talented writer with and understanding of language and pace and family and how to do a great deal in a small space.”
All three authors were published in the Winter 2012 issue of The Kenyon Review and appeared concurrently on KROnline in December 2011.
May 17, 2010 — Megan Anderegg Malone Wins 2010 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the third annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, for writers under the age of thirty.
- First Prize: Megan Anderegg Malone, “Death Threat”
- Runner-up: Christopher Feliciano Arnold, “Salt”
- Runner-up: Diana Kole, “Listened”
In her comments on Malone’s story, judge Louise Erdrich wrote: “The winner of this year’s Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest is “Death Threat,” a small piece of wisdom and terror. I usually dislike stories that begin with guns, but was won over by the veracity of the voice and by the extraordinary realization of the ending. The narrator’s father operates in the legal system and must inure himself to discouraging human dysfunction. But he allows himself deep sentiment over the death of a badly behaved old cat. In one final uncanny moment the young woman in “Death Threat” understands that her father is a person mourning, and afraid, in a world filled with power and pain.”
April 15, 2009 — Alexandra Zobel Wins 2009 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the second annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, for writers under the age of thirty.
- First Prize: Alexandra Zobel, “The Miles Tape Hypothesis”
- Runner-up: Jessica Lacher, “A Hypothesis”
- Runner-up: Mika Taylor, “Anchor Point”
Richard Ford, acclaimed author of the Frank Bascombe trilogy, including the novels The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land was the final judge. In his comments on Zobel’s story, Ford wrote: “Stylish, formally inventive, utterly confident in its grasp on narrative time and historical moment, this story is like a coolly consummate jazz riff on the august subject of failed possibilities redeemed by art.”
April 28, 2008 — Cara Blue Adams Wins 2008 KR Short Fiction Contest
We are pleased and excited to announce the winners of the first annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest, for writers under the age of thirty.
- First Prize: Cara Blue Adams, “I Met Loss the Other Day”
- Second Prize: Megan Mayhew Bergman, “Afterbirth”
- Third Prize: Nick Ripatrazone, “The Bearberry Elegies”
Commenting on Adams’ story, final judge Alice Hoffman wrote: “Here is a story that is both surprising and beautiful. If a singular and original voice is the mark of a natural writer, then here it is. This dark fable is wound up with gorgeous playful language: every word matters, every image counts.”
All three authors were published in the Winter 2009 issue of The Kenyon Review.