2020 Great American Fiction Contest: Meet the Winners!

2020 Great American Fiction Contest Winner Jon Gingerich
(Courtesy Jon Gingerich)

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Meet the Winner! Jon Gingerich

“I was stunned,” says Gingerich on learning his story “Thornhope, Indiana” had won first place, publication in the Post, and a prize of $500. “It took a day or two to sink in. I’m still in a daze about it. Just completely gobsmacked.”

“Thornhope, Indiana” was inspired by real-life events in the author’s family. “My grandfather was a farmer in northern Indiana, where the story takes place,” Gingerich says. “He died 25 years ago in a farming accident very similar to what occurs at the beginning of the short story.”

It was a devastating loss for the family, a death the author thinks about all the time. One of the central themes of “Thornhope, Indiana” is how our society deals with the death of a loved one. “We talk about losing someone as something we eventually will ‘get over,’ and I don’t think it works that way,” says the author, who through Carl — the young protagonist struggling with the loss of his brother — shows us how “grief changes you forever.”

Born in Indiana, where his family still lives, Gingerich “always wanted to write a story about the place where we’re from, and with precious little in the way of modern fiction set in the Hoosier state, I didn’t feel that I was wading into overfished waters.”

Gingerich began his writing career at 25 working for weekly newspapers before moving to New York 14 years ago to become editor of a business magazine. But, he says, “fiction has always been my passion.” He received an MFA in creative writing from The New School, and for the past five years has been a fiction instructor at the Gotham Writer’s Workshop in New York City — “I love it.” His work has appeared in a number of literary journals — including Pleiades, Grist, The Oyez Review, Stand Magazine, and Helix Magazine — and he recently finished writing a novel. “Thornhope, Indiana” is his first story published in a national consumer magazine. For more, visit jongingerich.com.

Meet the Runners-Up

Each runner-up receives $100 and publication of their work on our website. We salute these fine writers and the more than 250 others who entered our 2020 contest. We will publish the stories listed here in the coming weeks and add links to them on this page, starting with the publication of “Thornhope, Indiana.” Look for the release of a new story every Friday thereafter.   —The Editors


Amanda Irene Rush

2020 Great American Fiction Contest first runner-up, Amanda Irene Rush
(Courtesy Amanda Irene Rush)

Title: “Fifty Million Cents”

Storyline: Joey is nine when his mother goes nuts and he’s sent to live with his grumpy grandmother, often on his own.

Bio: First story to be published in a national magazine; stories have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review and Glimmer Train; for more, visit thegatheringgirl.wordpress.com.

Jesse Sherwood

2020 Great American Fiction Contest second runner-up, Jesse Sherwood
(Courtesy Jesse Sherwood)

Title: “All Happy Families”

Storyline: All three sisters know their father wouldn’t wait around for anyone to die — so why are they waiting on him?

Bio: First story to be published in a national magazine; humor piece appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Patricia Perry Donovan

2020 Great American Fiction Contest third runner-up, Patricia Perry Donovan
(Courtesy Patricia Perry Donovan)

Title: “Don’t Have to Be Crying”

Storyline: As coverage of Hurricane Sandy played out on TV, Grace — her sister knew — lacked the DNA to stand by and do nothing, no matter the cost.

Bio: First story to be published in a national magazine; stories have appeared in The Bookends Review, Hippocampus, and other literary magazines; author of two novels. For more, visit patriciaperrydonovan.com.

Kate Brett Lewis

2020 Great American Fiction Contest fourth runner-up Kate Brett Lewis
(Courtesy Kate Brett Lewis)

Title: “The Silhouette”

Storyline: Now that her parents are gone, Isabelle revisits the family’s weathered cabin on the lake and the memory of a summer day so long ago.

Bio: First story to be published in a national magazine.

Cathy Mellett

2020 Great American Fiction Contest fifth runner-up Cathy Mellett
(Courtesy Cathy Mellett)

Title: “A Man of Few Words”

Storyline: Asking for help was something Sam didn’t do, but as the letters piled up, he had no choice. Could he trust a college kid with his secret?

Bio: First story to be published in a national
magazine; stories have appeared in Yale Review, Rumpus, and other literary magazines. For more, visit cathymellett.com.

Post editors are delighted by the storytelling and fine writing of this year’s entrants. We’ve compiled the best stories — our winner, runners-up, and honorable mentions — in an e-book, available on your favorite platforms for $3.99. Order now at saturdayeveningpost.com/fiction-books.

Featured image: Courtesy Jon Gingerich

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