We are thrilled to share that prize judge Samrat Upadhyay has selected Fierce Pretty Things by Tom Howard as the winner of the 2018 Blue Light Books Prize! We received a record number of submissions to this year’s prize and are honored to have read so many powerful story collections. Fierce Pretty Things will be published by Indiana University Press in 2018 as part of the Blue Light Books Series, which includes previous prize-winning collections What My Last Man Did by Andrea Lewis and Girl with Death Mask by Jenn Givhan.
Posts By: Tessa Yang
Congratulations to Tom Howard, who has won the 2017 Fiction Prize for his short story “Fierce Pretty Things.” Thank you to all who submitted their work and made this year’s selection process so (delightfully) difficult. “Fierce Pretty Things” will appear next winter in IR 40.2.
2017 Fiction Prize Winner:
“Fierce Pretty Things” by Tom Howard
On the winning story, prize judge Caitlin Horrocks says: “Everyone around the narrator, Vardy, thinks they’ve got him figured out: he’s a bad apple, a loose cannon, a violent weirdo to be avoided in the school hallways. Vardy worries they may be right. His unforgettable, alternately hilarious and agonizing first-person narration, pulls the reader into his life and doesn’t let us out. When he starts wondering if there’s a way things could be different—if he could be different—he struggles to even guess what that might look like, let alone how to get there. Surrounded by enemies of his own making, and few allies, Vardy is a blazingly memorable character, his story one that will stick with me.”
The 2018 Blue Light Books Prize for a story collection is open until February 9! For this winter’s Twitter contest, we’re asking you to feature the prize’s namesake. In 280 characters or less, write a story that includes a blue light. Maybe it’s a set piece, maybe it’s the main character, maybe it’s the hinge on which the whole daring narrative turns. That’s up to you. Be sure to hashtag your story with #IRBlueLight. Entries are due by Friday, January 26.
- That morning the sun rose blue, dousing the town in an aquarium glow. While our parents watched the weather report and fretted, we embraced our new roles, and flopped on our bellies like beached fish. #IRBlueLight
- When I’m in new groups–for a job, a class, whatever–& that superpower question that always comes up comes up, I just stare at the light bulbs overhead, change them white to blue. At this rate, I’ll end up in a room with somebody who can change them back. #IRBlueLight
The 2018 Blue Light Books Prize for an outstanding story collection is open until February 9. In this interview, final prize judge Samrat Upadhyay discusses writing politics, madness, and what he expects from a powerful short story collection.
Samrat Upadhyay is the author of the short story collections Arresting God in Kathmandu (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), The Royal Ghosts (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), and Mad Country (Soho Press), and the novels The Guru of Love (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), Buddha’s Orphans (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010), and The City Son (Soho Press 2014). Upadhyay has also co-edited the anthology Secret Places: New Writing from Nepal (University of Hawai’i Press). His honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, an Asian American Literary Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Book Award. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University – Bloomington.
Review by Tessa Yang
In the opening story of Carmen Maria Machado’s debut collection, the narrator, stealing into the woods to have sex with her boyfriend, offers the following reflection: “I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.” “Unafraid” is an apt descriptor of Her Body and Other Parties, released yesterday from Graywolf Press. It is a book that pushes back: against literary conventions, against the stigma and silence surrounding queer sensuality. In these eight stories, Machado bulldozes the barriers between sci-fi, fantasy, literary fiction, horror, and erotica, and makes us wonder how we ever could have dreamed of separating them. Read more…