With every fall/winter issue, we have the sincere pleasure of featuring the winner of the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. This year marks the prize’s tenth anniversary—a bittersweet note, as it has given us both a venue to showcase outstanding fiction writing and a way to honor the memory of an alumna and friend, Liza Nelligan, a champion of writers and literature. The 2013 winning story is Edward Hamlin’s “Night in Erg Chebbi,” selected by Jim Shepard. We are delighted to share this hauntingly beautiful story with you, which, writes Shepard, “deftly deploys the kind of flyblown and faintly absurd exoticism shot through with menace that was Paul Bowles’s specialty, but the observational intelligence of its portrait of a loving but exhausted couple at the end of their tether is all its own, and both its sense of place and its pained compassion are arresting.”
The other stories in this issue are also imbued with elements of exoticism. In Miki Arndt’s “Jinmengyo,” a Japanese couple grieve the loss of their son but find solace in his return as an inhabitant of a nearby river. Corey Campbell’s “Ocean-Friendly Cuisine” takes us behind the scenes of a tour-bus outfit, where a guide competes with her aggressive colleague for the affection of a Croatian tourist as they travel through the deserts of the American West. And in Molly Patterson’s “Just Because You Can,” a young woman heads off, post–bad breakup, to Greenland in order to regroup, befriending amid the ice and the whales and the other tourists, a Danish couple with their own struggles.
Jen Hirt’s “Hour Thirteen” leads off our nonfiction, examining the peculiar nature of premonition, beginning with the author’s own, as a child, regarding the Space Shuttle Challenger. Keane Shum ruminates on the effect of his father’s frontotemporal dementia on their at times strained relationship in “The Disinhibition Effect.” Spurred by the acquisition of an old family photograph, Sarah Lenz looks into the fascinating history of postmortem photography while considering the odds of illness and accidents in “Lightning Flowers.”
Book review editor Dan Beachy-Quick joins us this issue as the guest poety editor, having gathered an exaltation of fine poems by both new and returning contributors. As fall turns to winter and the birds begin their migration south, our poets offer us a veritable aviary: Karen Leona Anderson writes of starling, crow, chickadee, grackle, sparrow, vulture, swan, and bluebird. K. A. Hays calls forth the robin’s “weird devotions—Cheer and O.” Michael Heller evokes the percussive movement of “the bird drum knocked inside.” Jeremy Pataky considers lonely waxwings, “the underside of owl wings,” and unheard birdsongs. And Andrew Seguin takes note of the cardinal that “alights as a gunshot.” Readers will also find much to admire in contributions from Nabil Kashyap, Matthew Mahaney, Kevin Phan, Daneen Wardrop, Emily Wilson, and others. We are especially glad to be sharing Jesse Lee Kercheval’s translations of Uruguayan poet Circe Maia’s poems.
Featured in This Issue
Karen Leona Anderson, Miki Arndt, Corey Campbell, Mario Chard, Mark Conway, Robert Dannenberg, Edward Hamlin, K. A. Hays, Michael Heller, Jen Hirt, Nabil Kashyap, Daniel Khalastchi, Christopher Kondrich, Sarah Lenz, Matthew Mahaney, Circee Maia, David Mutschlecner, Jeremy Pataky, Molly Patterson, Ed Pavlic, Kevin Phan, Andrew Seguin, Keane Shum, Sandra Isabel Simonds, Daneen Wardrop, Emily Wilson