And the results are in...
THE SHORTLIST FINALISTS
2016 MARY ROBERTS RINEHART FICTION CONTEST
ARE AS FOLLOWS:
lonely beasts., Timothy DeLizza
Imbued with speculative elements, lonely beasts. tackles themes of alienation in modern life and the human struggle to connect by employing urban landscapes that contain a fantastical edge. An unremarkable office worker is trapped in a furniture exhibit and is not allowed to leave until his one true love agrees to retrieve him. A young law firm associate is initiated into the life by being bitten by a spider.
Love Songs for a Lost Continent, Anita Felicelli
Narratives of displacement serve as a platform for this semi-autobiographical collection, inspired by the struggles and triumphs of second generation Tamil Americans. Felicelli's stories explore memory, identity, and reinvention.
Transcendent Guide to Corporate America, Jon Fried
Taking on the guise of a self-help book for the modern workplace, this eccentric collection, told through the lens of "guidebooks" or short stories, ranges from from traditional to magical. Souls transmigrate among machines and gabby office printers unveil a questionable workplace relationship through the auspices of PowerPoint. This is literary fiction written for anyone who has worked in an office environment, felt the encroachment of the corporate hegemony, or is part of (or soon to be part of) the contemporary workforce.
You Are Here, Kate Kimball
In one story, we see the beauty and shelter of art and marriage, while in another the reader is presented with its most grotesque form. Though they share geography and Mormon culture of Salt Lake City, Utah, each story, character, and conflict is uniquely its own. Here we see how religion shapes us, how women seek and find identity and community in a patriarchal culture. Kimball makes overt the complicated and subtle institutions that dominate our lives.
What it Might Feel Like to Hope, Dorene O’Brien
Using a balance of subtle humor and bittersweet moments, O’Brien’s stories explore the importance of relationships and how they ultimately shape who we become. Her characters are eccentric, evocative, and enigmatic; they vary just as widely as the stories themselves. A mother and daughter fight over a chair at a funeral; a health addict befriends an alcoholic neighbor whose pet lizard changes her life; a hopeful writer pens a story for Tom Hanks.
One Thirty Five South, Craig O’Hara
Centered in southern Indiana, this collection's cast of comical and quirky characters appear in the strangest of situations, sure to surprise readers just as often as it tugs on their heartstrings. A tumor growing in a strange man’s lung gives vague responses during an interview, a destructive teenager comes across a dead man deep in the woods, and a group of orangutans visit a married man’s bar and receive drinks on the house.
Oranges, Gary Peter
In this collection of linked short stories, Michael, a gay man living in the Midwest, is confronted with a number of challenges, including coming to terms with his sexuality in the age of AIDS, facing his family's refusal to accept him, dealing with the death of his mother and his aging father, and starting over after losing a partner.
Not Nobody, Not Nohow, Eric Schlich
Drawing on popular culture, Schlich presents a compelling array of [often unexpected] characters and genres, which he brings together through the common threads of sarcasm and wit.
The Three Muses, Martha Toll
This novel weaves memory and history through a love that crosses continents. John Curtin, né Janko Stein, damaged and traumatized by having survived a concentration camp singing for the man who killed his family, finds his way in America. World famous ballerina, Katya Symanova, née Katherine Sillman, fights her way out of a troubled home and through an abusive and intense partnership with her choreographer. How John and Katya unlock their ambitions and find one another is a driving force in this historical novel.
In an effort to give all of our entrants the time and attention they deserve, Contest Judge Porochista Khakpour's
winner and four finalists will be announced in late February 2017.
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The winning author will receive a prize of $1,000, a contract for publication by Stillhouse Press, 10 copies of their book, and paid transport to the 2017 Fall for the Book festival in Northern Virginia, where the winner will participate in a reading and conversation with contest judge, Porochista Khakpour.
Porochista Khakpour is the author of two novels, Sons and Other Flammable Objects: A Novel (Grove Press, 2008), a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” and The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014), which was named by NPR as one of the “Best Books of 2014.” Born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area, her work has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. She has been awarded fellowships from the NEA, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Sewanee, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Khakpour's essays and stories have appeared in or are forthcoming in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Paris Review Daily, Elle, Spin, Slate, Salon, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Guernica, Departures, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun, Alef, and Canteen, among others. She is currently a Writer in Residence at Bard College in New York.