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Image: City Hospital from the Seattle Municipal Archives

Reading List September 29, 2018

Award-Winning Short Stories

Man Booker nominees and more got their start at Boston Review.

From national sci-fi award winners to Man Booker nominees, short story authors featured in Boston Review are a truly impressive group—and not to toot our own horn or anything, but we have a pretty great track record when it comes to spotting them before anyone else.

Daisy Johnson, for example, was just announced as the youngest author ever to be shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. We are honored to have published Johnson’s eerie and wonderful short story, “There Was a Fox in the Bedroom,” in 2015—when she was just 24 years old.

We are always on the hunt for more great talent—just check out our contests page. And if you need a little inspiration then put the kettle on, plump up your favorite pillow, and relax with the below award-winning pieces of fiction that are all 5,000 words or less.

—Rosie Gillies


There Was a Fox in the Bedroom
by Daisy Johnson

“On Wednesday she left the washing in piles in the sink. Went out to the field. The men had their backs to her, arms folded over ribs, looking at the horses…”

Daisy Johnson’s eerie short story is one of our favorites, and the youngest ever Man Booker nominee has also received the A.M. Heath Prize and The Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

• • •

The Recorder
by Herselman Hattingh

“2018 Aura Estrada winner ‘The Recorder’ is as spare and foreboding as the desert of its setting. Mysterious and philosophical, the story questions human existence and purpose. The enigma of its ending will remain with the reader.”

— Viet Thanh Nguyen, contest judge

• • •

Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue
by Charlie Jane Anders

Originally appearing in our Global Dystopias issue, this short piece of speculative fiction imagines a parallel present in which trans people are hunted down and ‘fixed.’ It has since won the Theodore Sturgeon Award, been shortlisted for James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award, and is featured in the anthology Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018.

• • •

by Gina Balibrera

2017 Aura Estrada winner ‘Álvaro’ is a moving and layered work of fiction, where a romantic Salvadoran composer beguiles us with his charms but keeps us in his hold with his faith and love for the world. Balibrera has given us an unforgettable portrait of an ageless artist walking among us who will never leave us again.”

— Min Jin Lee, contest judge

• • •

Hitting Budapest
by NoViolet Bulawayo

After appearing in Boston Review in 2010, Bulawayo’s short story went on to win the Caine Prize—often described as the “African Booker.” “I knew this writer was going to blow up,” Junot Diaz commented. “Her honesty, her voice, her formidable command of her craft, all were apparent from the first page, but its only when you reach the haunting conclusion of ‘Hitting Budapest’ that you realize just how tremendously talented NoViolet is.”

She went on to reach the shortlist for the Man Booker in 2013, using “Hitting Budapest” as the opening chapter of her first novel.

• • •

by Mikayla Ávila Vilá

“My favorite thing about ‘Trumpeteers’—2016 winner of the Aura Estrada Short Story Contest—is its air of strangeness and mystery. Some of this mystery derives from the author’s elegant use of first-person-plural narration to suggest both a particular set of siblings and a whole community grappling with tremendous forces: human, meteorological, and divine.”

— Jennifer Egan, contest judge

• • •

Dole Girl
by Barbara Hamby

“The setting of this story, a pineapple cannery in 1970 Honolulu, is wonderfully unusual and well described, and the turns of the narrator’s mind are often delightful and surprising. ‘Dole Girl,’ the 2015 Aura Estrada Short Story Contest winner, evokes a very particular time and place and tone, as well as the narrator’s keen yearning to be free from those insular particularities.”

— Ruth Ozeki, contest judge

• • •

A Modern Marriage
by Grace Oluseyi

“The guests listened as the bride’s uncle gave the opening toast and prayer, thanking God for the union, praying against spells, family curses, and any other tool of the Evil One that would prevent theirs from being a fruitful marriage.”

Set amongst the backdrop of contemporary Nigerian culture, Oluseyi’s first published short story went on to win the 2017 PEN/Robert K. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.

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