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The essential annual guide to the newest voices in short fiction, selected this year by Tracy O’Neill, Nafissa Thompson–Spires, and Deb Olin Unferth. 

Who are the most promising short story writers working today? Where do we look to discover the future stars of literary fiction? This book will offer a dozen compelling answers to these questions.

The stories collected here represent the most recent winners of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, which recognizes twelve writers who have made outstanding debuts in literary magazines in the previous year. They are chosen by a panel of distinguished judges, themselves innovators of the short story form: Tracy O’Neill, Nafissa Thompson–Spires, and Deb Olin Unferth. Each piece comes with an introduction by its original editors, whose commentaries provide valuable insight into what magazines are looking for in their submissions, and showcase the vital work they do to nurture literature’s newest voices.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781646220229
Publisher: Catapult
Publication date: 08/25/2020
Series: PEN America
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 456,414
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Tracy O'Neill is the author of the novels The Hopeful and Quotients. She has been named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and awarded the Center for Fiction's Emerging Writers Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and VQR. She attended the MFA program at CCNY and the PhD program in communications at Columbia University.

Nafissa Thompson–Spires is the author of Heads of the Colored People, which won the PEN Open Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and an Audie Award. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, Dissent, and BuzzFeed Books. She teaches creative writing at Cornell University.

Deb Olin Unferth is the author of six books, including the novel Barn 8, forthcoming in 2020 from Graywolf. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Granta, Vice, Tin House, The New York Times, NOON, and McSweeney’s. An associate professor at the University of Texas in Austin, she has received a Guggenheim fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award. She also teaches creative writing at a penitentiary in southern Texas.

Table of Contents

Introduction Yuka Igarashi, series editor xiii

Evangelina Concepcion Ani Cooney 3

From Epiphany

The Other Child David Kelly Lawrence 21

From The Threepenny Review

Summertime Mohit Manohar 31

From Michigan Quarterly Review

Cats vs. Cancer Valerie Hegarty 51

From New England Review

The Water Tower and the Turtle Kikuko Tsumura 75

Translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton from Granta

Failure to Thrive Willa C. Richards 93

From The Paris Review

Gauri Kalyanam Kristen Sahaana Surya 115

From The Rumpus

Dog Dreams Sena Moon 127

From Quarterly West

Bat Outta Hell Damitri Martinez 139

From Foglifter

Madam's Sister Mbozi Haimbe 163

From Grants

Don't go to Strangers Matthew Jeffrey Vegari 181


The Good, Good Men Shannon Sanders 205

From Puerto del Sol

About the Judges 225

About the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers 227

List of Participating Publications 229

Permissions 233

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