Contests: Stories 2023

Many thanks to all who entered the 2023 Short Fiction Competition. We appreciate the opportunity to read such piercing and innovative new work.

From nearly 2,000 submissions, guest judge and 2020 PEN/Hemingway Award and 2022 National Book Award finalist Jamil Jan Kochai honored the following stories.

First Prize:
“The Boy’s Heart” by Beth Bachmann (New York, NY)
A tender, delicate story with a language and a narrative logic all its own. A story that teaches you to read it. The details are precise but elaborate and (I hesitate to say) almost perfectly arranged. When you reach the final line, you’re not exactly sure what has happened to you, yet immediately you’re compelled to return to the first line and begin again. —Jamil Jan Kochai

Second Prize:
“Dog of War” by Kathy Chao (Woodside, NY)
An epic, engrossing tale. A narrative journey encapsulating decades of warfare and political sabotage. A storyteller’s story, of a warrior’s rise and fall and rise and fall. A rumination on violence and power and conquest and the ultimate conqueror: time. —JJK

Third Prize:
“We Are Sorry for Your Suffering” by Joy Baglio (Northampton, MA)
Formally inventive. We watch in awe and horror as an apocalyptic AI attempts to come to terms with the development of its own sentience, and we find ourselves strangely moved by its final effort to express something like love for the remnants of humanity. —JJK

Honorable Mentions:
“Paradise Lost” by Ash Kaul (Navi Mumbai, India)
“Real-Life Friends” by Katie Knight (Los Angeles, CA)
“The Plant and the Planter” by David Miller (Champaign, IL)
“Desmond” by Greg Quatannens (Richmond, CA)
“Not the One or the Other” by Christopher Rose (Baltimore, MD)
“Godspeed” by Reid Sharpless (Brooklyn, NY)
“Reunion” by Jeanne Shoemaker (Victoria, Canada)

First prize is $1,000; second prize, $500; and third prize, $250. The prizewinners and honorable mentions will be considered for representation by William Morris Endeavor; ICM; the Wylie Agency; Janklow & Nesbit; Regal Literary; Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency; Inkwell Management; Sterling Lord Literistic; Aitken Alexander Associates; Barer Literary; the Gernert Company; and the Georges Borchardt Literary Agency.

The winning story, “The Boy’s Heart” by Beth Bachmann, will be published in the print edition of our Spring 2024 issue.

The 2024 Short Fiction Competition opens July 1; for details, please visit the website this summer. And should you wish to receive updates by email, please write us at [email protected].

Thanks once more, and all good wishes for your work,
The editors