From our judge, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer:
This batch of stories reminds me of how the emotional concision of the short story as a form holds a kind of meaning. I am privileged in this task to be introduced to some very fine writing, some indelible plots, but most of all many unique and urgent voices. The short story can breathe new life into the world, and this lot of stories accomplishes that and more.
First Prize: Brittany Smith for “Sand”
This story—about a couple struggling with desire, identity, love, illness, and location—struck me for its complexity and the fact that never did I feel grounded while reading it. From the beginning to the end I was surprised by its elegant emotional torques, its humour, and the particularity of its voice. Brittany Smith displays a fine, surprising, singular, and intelligent talent with “Sand.”
Second Prize: Mahak Jain for “In Transit”
This story—about the traumatic dismay of immigrating—is most notable for the lucidity of the child’s perspective as it blossoms so naturally. The sentence tension and the scattered, sometimes familiar, sometimes disruptive, images in this piece add a layer of delicious strangeness to what we have come to anticipate from immigration narratives. I especially loved the weirdness of this story’s fractured, matter-of-fact memories and how gracefully Jain articulates her protagonist’s growth.
Third Prize: Georgia Wilder for “English Lessons”
There is so much humour and yearning in this piece. Set in a restaurant-bar, this story is burlesque and mundane, hitting both personal and public notes with quite marvelous finesse. I loved the swirl of people in this one, and wish to congratulate Wilder on how brimful of life the story is, and on how well it renders the way in which a crowd can make one feel acutely alone.
Honourable Mentions (alphabetically)
“Cakewalk” by Christopher Evans. This is a smart, noteworthy, gritty, lucid dream of a story about a young man’s return to his high school, with all the everyday awfulness such a return might entail. Very compelling writing.
“Pasha and Dr. Mack Probe the Universe and Themselves” by Michael Goldlist. This story describes a wonderful interaction between an exceptional analysand and his analyst, as he tries to intellectually resist and avoid the very psychological matter for which he is in the room to bear witness. Smart, elaborate, and expansive story.
“A Pregnancy” by Michael Melgaard. This is an extraordinary, urgent, and devastating rendering of a natal tragedy. This prose has a wide-open heart, making the story both hard and real-feeling. The piece has exquisite movement.
Jann Everard’s “Lost and Broken”
Pamela Hensley’s “Danny’s Harmonica”
Liz Johnston’s “The Bray of My Old Heart”
Jennifer Sloan Walker’s “Eclipse”
Scott Wilson’s “Homework Assignments and Human Sacrifices”