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Announcing the 2017 Fiction Prize Winner!

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.”

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2018 BLB Prize Twitter Contest #IRBlueLight

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.

Example Tweets:

  • 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

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Interview with 2018 Blue Light Books Prize Judge: Samrat Upadhyay

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.

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Wang_A family recipe that cannot be followed written down


Tianru Wang grew up in Los Angeles, but was born in Jinan and is in love with New Orleans. Her work has been recognized by the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, the Live Poets Society of New Jersey, and the English department at Yale University, where she is currently an undergraduate.



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Steenbeeke_Apocalypse Dream Again


*an Indiana Review Pushcart Prize nomination

Kristen Steenbeeke is an MFA candidate in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship. She’s had work in Pleiades, Tin House, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Poetry Northwest, and others. She was recently a finalist in Mid-American Review‘s Fineline Competition and Third Coast‘s Poetry Contest.