2023 Great American Fiction Contest: Meet the Winners!

The results are in! Here's who won this year's fiction contest.

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Meet the Winner! Michael Mack

Read Michael’s story, “Shush, Shush.”

“I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience,” said Mack when notified his story “Shush, Shush” had won first place, print and online publication, and a prize of $1,000. “This will be my first story to appear in a national magazine — certainly one of such stature — and I’m truly honored.”

The winning short story was inspired by real-life events in the author’s life. “When I was five years old, my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia,” says the author. “This new reality brought profound upheavals to everyone in our family. As it progressed over the years, she cycled in and out of state mental institutions.”

Mack’s father would visit her regularly when she was hospitalized and invited his son to join him after he turned 12.

“‘Shush, Shush’ tells the story of the first of my hospital visits,” he says. “These brief get-togethers could be fraught with unease and bewilderment, but they could also include moments of gentle humor and sublime, unforgettable sweetness.”

When a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he began to write about her life, in part to tell the story, and in part to help him make sense of it. The author has written much about growing up, inspired by his mother and father: “I must thank them for this narrative, because they — through their beautiful and poignant struggles — inspired me to write this story.”

Mack’s work has been published in America, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Cumberland Poetry Review, and anthologized in Best Catholic Writing.

With a busy life, how does he find time to write?

“Accountability helps tremendously,” Mack says. “A writer friend and I text each other daily with the amount of time spent writing that day. Sometimes it’s an hour or two, and sometimes — no exaggeration — one minute. We’ve done this for years.“

Read more from Michael Mack at MichaelMackLive.com.

Meet the Runners-Up

Each runner-up receives $200 and publication of their work on our website. We salute these fine writers and the more than 250 others who entered our 2023 contest. —The Editors

Doug Lane

TITLE: Daddy, Play That Babalú

STORYLINE: The episode was in the can, ready to air the same night as the blessed event; then something went terribly wrong.

BIO: Stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including Bards and Sages and the Post’s New Fiction Friday. Author of the short story collection Shady Acres and Darker Places. For more, visit douglasjlane.com.

Lisa Lebduska

TITLE: The Undertaker’s Wife

STORYLINE: In Mrs. Borga’s room, Josephine wanted to absorb every inch of her surroundings until they became part of her.

BIO: First story to be published by a national consumer magazine. Work has appeared in The Tishman Review and Lunch Ticket, among other literary magazines.

Alan Sincic

TITLE: The Ripening

STORYLINE: G.B. and Maggie battle to claim a space to call their own.

BIO: First runner-up in the 2021 Great American Fiction Contest. Work has appeared in Boulevard, New Ohio Review, The Greensboro Review,
and Prime Number, among others. For more, visit alansincic.com.

Gay Degani

TITLE: Scablands

Storyline: When a man from Hannah’s past shows up out of nowhere, her daughter is left with more questions than answers.

BIO: First story to be published by a national consumer magazine. Work has appeared in Crimespree Magazine and Smokelong Quarterly, among others.
Author of the novel What Came Before. For more, visit gaydegani.com.

Caroline Frost

TITLE: Beast of Argento

STORYLINE: When the ground shook, they knew something had gone terribly wrong.

BIO: First story to be published by a national consumer magazine. Author of two novels, Shadows of Pecan Hollow and Murder Ballad (out in 2024). For more, visit carolinefrost.com.


This article appears in the January/February 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. Thank you, Ms Bortel!

    I’ve purchased all the others, 2013 through 2022, and enjoyed them on my Kindle very much.

  2. Does anyone know how soon the 2023 Best Short stories anthology will be available for Kindle?

    Thank you.

  3. One minor correction to the above: Doug Lane’s website is douglasjlane.com.

    With that little letter ‘j’ in the middle, you’ll find gifts at my website!

    Without it, you get a parked page for a domain someone’s been sitting on since 2003, which is kinda like coal in the stocking. Though as cold as it is, coal might be the hot gift this year…

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  4. Thanks for this online preview before getting the new issue. I look forward to reading the new fiction published each Friday here online. Congratulations to everyone!


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