the halfwit is dead, the church folk are assembled and the pump organ is wheezing out hymns. in short, the stage is set for vernie lee hurlow, grandmother of the “poor little thing” laid out in her living room, to declare her revelation, one she has been carrying for fifteen years. she alone knows the reason behind this tragedy. but where is the preacher? vernie needs an ordained minister to establish her story of divine providence and the mystery therein.
set in appalachia, this story follows vernie through a circuitous route of faith, disbelief, and wrong directions, until the real witness is revealed.
“establishing witness” won the mikrokosmos fiction award, judged by janet peery, whose award statement reads as follows: “for its resonant and powerful storytelling, its ambition and vision and wisdom, textural depth, integrity to form, its adept characterization of grandma vernie, and attention to the realized consequences of doing wrong things that seem so right, but most of all for its allegiance to the idea expressed by flannery o’connor’s mother’s neighbor lady, who said, when trying to figure out o’connor’s fiction, “that just goes to show what some people will go on and do,” the winner of this year’s mikrokosmos fiction prize is 'establishing witness.’”
joan spilman is a west virginia-born writer of adult and juvenile fiction. she received an mfa in fiction from wichita state university, where she was awarded the fiction fellowship. her ya novel, sansablatt head, is already available on kindle. her novel "this will never stop", which follows four generations of appalachian women, will be available soon. she has published in many journals, including carriage house review, the laurel review, short story and southern humanities review. "this will never stop was a finalist for the santa fe writers’ project award.