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2019 Innovative Short Fiction Contest

Contest Judge: Sarah Gerard

Prize: $500, publication, copies of the issue,

and a copy of the judge’s latest book

Sarah Gerard selected Joe Aguirre as the 2019 Innovative Short Fiction Contest winner for his short story, “Three Riffs for the Devil.”

Sarah said “‘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.”

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 Sunshine State.

This year’s finalists were Brittany AckermanDebbie GraberAlison FosterJasmine Sawers, and Kate Simonian.

About the Contest

The winning story will be published in The Conium Review‘s next issue. The winning author will receive $500, five copies of the issue, and a copy of the judge’s latest book.

Innovative short fiction should take risks that pay off. Don’t tell us a story we’ve already heard before. Show us something new with your subject, style, or characters. Make sure your writing has a “wow” factor.

The 2019 contest judge is Sarah Gerard. Sarah is the author of Sunshine State (Harper Perennial, 2017), Binary Star (Two Dollar Radio 2015), and True Love (Harper Books, forthcoming 2020). She also co-authored the art book, Recycle (Pacific, 2018), with Amy Gall. If you are a family member, coworker, or student of the judge, you are ineligible for this contest.

Contest Deadlines

Submissions must be received between April 1st, 2019 and July 1st, 2019. All submissions must include a $15.00 entry fee. The winner will be announced on or around September 15th, 2019.

Submission Guidelines

All manuscripts must be submitted through our Submittable page between April 1st, 2019 and July 1st, 2019. Your submission may include any combination of flash fictions or short stories up to 7,500 total words. Upload your submission as a single manuscript file. Your name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript. The judge reads blind, and she will recuse herself from considering any manuscript where the writer is identifiable. In the unlikely event that the judge is unable to select a winner, The Conium Review editorial staff will make the final decision.

In the “Biography Statement” field, please include a two or three sentence third-person bio. This bio will not be viewable by the contest judge. If you win the contest, your bio appears inside the published issue of The Conium Review along with the winning story.

Submissions must be unpublished, original work. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but you must withdraw your story immediately if it is accepted elsewhere. If you withdraw your submission, the entry fee is not returned.

This contest abides by the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses code of ethics.  Thank you for submitting!

About the 2019 Contest Judge

Sarah Gerard is the author of the essay collection Sunshine State (Harper Perennial), a New York Times critics’ choice, the novel Binary Star (Two Dollar Radio), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times first fiction prize, and the forthcoming novel, True Love (Harper Books, Winter 2020). Her short stories, essays, interviews, and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, Granta, The Baffler, Vice, and anthologies. Her paper collages have appeared in Hazlitt, BOMB Magazine, Epiphany Magazine, No Tokens Journal, and the Blue Earth Review. Recycle, a co-authored book of collages and text, was published by Pacific in 2018. She has been supported by scholarships and fellowships from Yaddo, Tin House, PlatteForum, and Ucross. Sarah is the 2018 – 2019 New College of Florida Writer-in-Residence.

Praise for Sunshine State

  • “Stunning.” —Rolling Stone
  • “Gerard’s prose is lacerating and compassionate at once, showing us both the grand beauty of our American dreams and the heartbreaking devastation they wreak.” –Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
  • “To read Sunshine State . . . is to fall into something like a trance. Gerard’s writing transports completely, thanks both to the eerie, atmospheric prose itself and to her thorough investigative journalism; each essay carries the reader to a seemingly foreign world. —Buzzfeed
  • “Gerard’s prose is unlabored, flatly observational, and the interwoven mini stories are at once tender and cold, exhilarating and regrettable—each undermining the one that precedes it.” –Nicole Rudick, Paris Review
  • “Gerard’s writing has been described as ‘unflinching,’ but perhaps the better terms are ‘generous’ and ‘patient.’ Her patience is what gets her close enough to her subjects that she can round them out, exhibit their complexities, and her generosity is what keeps her from mocking them. –Nick Moran, The Millions
  • Sunshine State, embodies Florida’s unpredictability in the best sense. The essays are structurally intricate and ultraprecise in their depictions of both the physical and human worlds. Always intimate and never insular, they span a wide range of subjects—some trace the personal roots of family histories and youth and lost friendships, while others look outward to environmental conservation, religion, and homelessness.” –Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel

Archived Contest Pages