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The Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses 2017 Edition

The Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses 2017 Edition

by Bill Henderson, The Pushcart Prize Editors

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“America’s best fiction, poetry and essays.” Billy Collins
“Resounding testimony to the persistence of intelligent, creative, and compassionate expression” commented Booklist on last year’s Pushcart Prize. “A wonderful edition” said Publishers Weekly. Features appeared in The New York Times Book Review and


“America’s best fiction, poetry and essays.” Billy Collins
“Resounding testimony to the persistence of intelligent, creative, and compassionate expression” commented Booklist on last year’s Pushcart Prize. “A wonderful edition” said Publishers Weekly. Features appeared in The New York Times Book Review and elsewhere.
Pushcart’s 41st Edition is edited with the assistance of 200 distinguished Contributing Editors and was selected from more than 8,000 stories, essays and poetry nominated by a complete roster of today’s outstanding non-commercial publishers.
The Pushcart Prize has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Book Critics Circle, the Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers/Barnes & Noble and is acclaimed by readers and reviewers internationally.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Henderson dedicates this year’s expansive and mostly impressive anthology to Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer, who despite being “far from the centers of publishing and political power has reached an international audience with his poetry, fiction, criticism, essays and environmental activism.” Pieces in the Berry tradition include fellow Kentuckian Chris Offutt’s emotionally nuanced essay, “Trash Food,” on class, food, race, and regional origin; Douglas W. Milliken’s incisive, stern short story, “Blue of the World,” about a grieving horse farmer’s slow estrangement from his son; and Jericho Brown’s potent, delicate poem, “The Tradition,” which yokes the names of flowers and the names of young black men killed by the police. Humankind’s relationship to the natural world appears as a theme throughout, as in Liz Ziemska’s rigorously imagined tale, “The Mushroom Queen,” of a restless wife who swaps bodies with a sentient network of mycelium and Cate Hennessey’s family history, “Beets,” told through notes on the seasons and gardening. An emphasis on setting and place recurs as well. Kalpana Narayanan’s essay “Dr. J” considers the meaning of home in Atlanta, India, and Brooklyn. Cecily Parks’s poem “Hurricane Song” elegantly observes the subtle shifts and motions of a forest before a hurricane. In a mild, unobtrusive way, the nonfiction trends personal, the fiction realist, and the poetry short, clear, and powerful. Stellar, distinctive entries from familiar names—Deb Olin Unferth, Lydia Davis, Elizabeth McCracken, Steve Almond, Barry Lopez—compensate for the handful of too-conventional ones. The collection succeeds as a broad yet cohesive array of excellent writing. (Nov.)
Library Journal
★ 11/01/2016
Welcome to the latest Pushcart Prize collection: 71 selections from 50 presses illustrating the diversity of topics in today's fiction and nonfiction. With a turn of the page, readers are taken from a kitchen table in Minneapolis to a country club neighborhood in Atlanta, and on to a library in Texas. The working poor, the rich, the ambitious, the dedicated, and the uninspired are all represented in the essays, short stories, and poetry. The exceptional quality of writing has earned each author, whether emerging or established, a seat in the Pushcart arena. Doug Crandell's essay "Winter Wheat" chronicles his youth working in his family's fields and the relationship he and his brothers build with Kenny, a new neighbor, who dies in a farming accident. "Dr. J" by Kalpana Narayanan explains the author's experience returning to her parent's home where she and her father each decide to write books. Lisa Taddeo's short story "Forty-Two" introduces the philosophies of a self-described beautiful older woman, Joan, who prefers younger men. Poetry selections include "Hurricane Song" by Cecily Parks, which focuses on love and safety in the forest. VERDICT As always, this annual publication is highly recommended for literary collections as a celebration of talent and creative expression.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL
Kirkus Review
Sept. 7, 2016
Forty-one and counting: the latest installment of the literary prize volume delivers, as ever, with abundance and occasional splendor.The Pushcart franchise fires on all cylinders, bringing in work by relative newcomers as well as old hands. Sometimes this causes a bit of whiplash. How, after all, can a novice fictionist compete with the likes of “He lived in a world of grease, and no matter how often he bathed, which was once a day, rigorously—and no shower but a drawn bath—he smelled of carnitas, machaca, and the chopped white onion and soapy cilantro he folded each morning into his pico de gallo”? That’s T.C. Boyle, exulting in the pages of Kenyon Review in gritty details and food porn, and his precisely observed approach sets a standard that not all of the pieces gathered here meet. On the nonfiction side, originally writing in Granta, Barry Lopez sets a similarly high bar, earnest and instructive: “Over the years traveling cross-country with indigenous people I absorbed two lessons about how to be more fully present in an encounter with a wild animal.” Those two lessons might save someone’s life, worth the price of admission of the prize anthology, or they might simply inspire some other fine writer on nature and/or fact. One such scribe is Eric Wilson, whose memoir of an eccentric Faroese writer is restrained but affecting; allowing for the rather flat short story that precedes it, it makes a good start to a long and overstuffed volume. Indeed, that flatness seems a desideratum in the workshop-ish phylum (“After seven weeks at college, it still felt funny to Chandra to wear shower shoes, which were highly recommended to avoid fungus”), but nothing some time with the likes of Martin Espada, Elizabeth Scanlon, and Jenn Shapland can’t take care of. There’s something for everyone here, and anyone with an interest in contemporary letters will want to see the venerable Pushcart’s picks.

Product Details

Pushcart Press, The
Publication date:
Pushcart Prize Series
Edition description:
2017 Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

Bill Henderson is the founder and editor of the Pushcart Prize. He received the 2006 National Book Critic Circle’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Poets & Writers / Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. He is also the author of several memoirs, including All My Dogs: A Life. The founder of the Lead Pencil Club, Henderson lives in New York.

More than 200 Contributing Editors and CO-Editors help select the annual volumes of The Pushcart Prize. The Pushcart Prize Editors come from almost every state in the USA and around the world. Every year more than 8,000 nominations are received for the Pushcart Prize.

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