Writers submitted more than 200 entries to the 2017 Great American Fiction Contest. Judging was tough — there were so many good stories! — but our panel of judges whittled the list down to the very best, and we are pleased to announce our winner: Myles McDonough! His short story, “Crack,” appears in the January/February 2017 issue of the Post, but you can read it online now.
Meet Myles and our five runner-up authors below. Their stories will be published weekly through the end of January.
Purchase the ebook collection to read all these and 10 more great stories not available online.
Are you a short story writer? The 2018 Great American Fiction Contest is now open for submissions. Enter by July 1, 2017.
Meet the Winner!
The email that arrived just as McDonough was exiting a fiction workshop caught him a bit off guard. His story “Crack” had taken first place in the Post’s 2017 Great American Fiction Contest, winning him a $500 prize and publication in the Post. “I’m thrilled and honored, and not entirely sure this is all real,” he says.
In “Crack,” McDonough captures the painful scars that two men — a chiropractor who has recently emigrated from Baghdad and a U.S. veteran who fought in the Iraq War — continue to endure. “It was important to convey the unique wants, needs, and beliefs of both men, wounded by the war in different ways,” says McDonough. “The conflicting nature of their individual traumas heightened the tension, and chiropractic treatment, which requires great trust between patient and practitioner, struck me as an ideal subject.”
Completing his B.A. in English from Harvard University in 2015, McDonough is currently a candidate for an M.F.A. in creative writing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Crack” is his first story published in any medium.
“In its detailing of a chance encounter between an Iraq-born chiropractor and an Iraq War veteran, ‘Crack’ makes it clear that you have to reopen some wounds so they can begin to heal,” noted guest judge and author Michael Knight. “Not only is this story luminously written, not only does it put the reader in a complicated emotional place, but a palpable tension bubbles seething up from within the story’s protagonist from the very first pages. The reader’s experience of living inside that tension as it mounts across the story feels at once dangerous and cathartic and deeply satisfying.”
Meet the Runners-Up
TITLE: “The Awkwards”
STORY LINE: Hector had parlayed a gift for computing into a good yet unsatisfying gig at QVC. But just when he was ready to leave and start a new life, Elaine showed up.
BIO: First story published by a national magazine.
TITLE: “Artist in Residence”
STORY LINE: If Sean’s grades didn’t improve, his mother threatened to banish his fiddle to the closet. Claire came to help, but could a Northerner understand Creole traditions?
BIO: Published fiction in St. Anthony Messenger, Highlights for Children; 2014 Great American Fiction Contest runner-up.
TITLE: “Long Past Time”
STORY LINE: With the news of his ex-mother-in-law’s death, a man faces disturbing questions about his failed marriage to a woman who had always seemed a stranger.
BIO: First short story published by a national consumer magazine; stories published in many literary magazines, including West Branch, The Gettysburg Review, Folio, and England’s Stand Magazine.
TITLE: “Getting Home”
STORY LINE: How could Michael explain to his son that when you do nothing, bad things can happen, but also sometimes, even when you stand up and do all you can, things still can go bad?
BIO: Published short fiction in The Atlantic Monthly, Best New Writing, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, and The Long Story, among others. (For more, visit markfabiano.com.)
TITLE: “Sherry at the Knights of Columbus”
STORY LINE: Sherry’s musical talent had always been her calling card, but would her nerves betray her on the night of the parish’s annual talent contest?
BIO: First short story published by a national consumer magazine; stories published in literary magazines, including Falling Star Magazine, Carve, and Emrys.
This stories submitted to this year’s contest cover a wide range of topics, genres, and writing styles. You can read 16 of the best submissions — our winner, runners-up, and semifinalists — in an e-book, available on your favorite platforms for only $3.99. Order now at saturdayeveningpost.com/fiction-books.