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Announcing the 2019 Innovative Short Fiction Contest Winner: Joe Aguirre

Sarah Gerard has finished deliberating, and we have a winner! Joe Aguirre is the 2019 Innovative Short Fiction Contest Winner with his short story “Three Riffs for the Devil.”

Joe Aguirre writes from Shrewsbury, MA. He’s driven a laundry truck, practiced maritime law, and sorted organs in a pathology lab. His work is forthcoming in Fugue. He will receive a $500 prize for his winning story, publication in The Conium Review: Vol. 8, copies of the issue, and a copy of Sarah Gerard’s latest book.

Here’s what the judge had to say about Joe’s winning story:

“‘Three Riffs for the Devil’ is a confident, pitch-perfect satire of getting what you ask for, with winking jewels of dark wisdom. Sharp and original, it pokes at the reader’s ribs, sticks its fingers into our weak points, asking, What’s your own vice? In what form will the devil come for you? Maybe he already has.”

~ Sarah Gerard, author of Sunshine State

This year’s finalists were Brittany Ackerman, Debbie Graber, Alison Foster, Jasmine Sawers, and Kate Simonian. Thanks to all those who submitted. As always, the decision was difficult, and we appreciate you trusting us with your work.

Sarah Gerard to judge the 2019 Innovative Short Fiction Contest

Sarah Gerard headshotThe sixth annual Innovative Short Fiction Contest opens for submissions in a couple months. We’re pleased to announce this year’s judge is Sarah Gerard, author of Sunshine State (Harper Perennial, 2017), Binary Star (Two Dollar Radio, 2015), and the forthcoming novel True Love (Harper Books, 2020). Sarah’s short stories, essays, interviews, and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, Granta, The Baffler, Vice, and anthologies.

The contest runs from April 1st to July 1st, 2019. The winner receives $500, publication, and a copy of the judge’s latest book. Full details and guidelines are available here.

James R. Gapinski’s favorite books of 2015

To wrap-up the year, our managing editor, James R. Gapinski, chimes in with his top five books of 2015. A few days ago, Melissa Reddish also shared her list.

Binary Star, by Sarah Gerard

If you want predictable syntax crammed into neat boxes, look elsewhere. Binary Star takes risks. Come for the inventive structure, stay for the characters who seem to be in a constant state or implosion and/or explosion.

Scrapper, by Matt Bell

Scrapper tells a riveting story set in a near-future version of Detroit, ravaged by climate change. Its unassuming blue collar protagonist has waaaaaaay more shit going on than first meets the eye. This book is its own masterclass in character development.

The Seven Good Years, by Etgar Keret (Translated by Sondra Silverston, Miriam Shlesinger, Jessica Cohen, and Anthony Berris)

Etgar Keret’s memoir explores the seven years between the birth of his son and the death of his father. Yes, the book builds toward a death, but it’s more about celebrating life. And it’s filled with the sense wonder and whimsy that have become a staple of Keret’s work.

Gutshot, by Amelia Gray

The stories in Gutshot have a visceral intensity to them. They rip open your perceptions of what a story is and can be. They scream at you and dare you to flinch. Yeah, you might bleed out by the end, but you’ll feel alive the whole goddamn time.

 Citizen, by Claudia Rankine

I’m not surprised that Citizen is also on Melissa’s top-five list as Book I Would Slip into Everyone’s Bag When They Weren’t Looking. I gave this book to my partner over the holidays—then she received a second copy from her sister. When you read this book, you want to share it. And you want to share it quickly. These pages have urgency. You’ll finish it in one sitting, and if you’re not already a proponent of #BlackLivesMatter, you will be. Read it. Now.