Congratulations to the winners of the annual Common Review Short Story Prize! And thanks to judge Gina Frangello for choosing our winners.
All prize winners, plus two Honorable Mentions, will receive a free copy of The Great Books Foundation Short Story Omnibus. First prize will receive $400 and publication in TCR Online. Second prize will receive $200 and our two third prize winners will receive $75 each.
First Prize: "The Cherry Tree" by Lowell Uda
Second Prize: "Stabbing Michael McDonald" by Dorian Kotsiopoulos
Third Prize: "The Blue Demon of Ikumi" by Kelly Luce and "I Listen to a Breath of Mine" by Matthew Hamity
Honorable Mentions: "Lake Trash" by Dan Moreau and "Softball" by Tobias Amadon Bengelsdorf
From Gina Frangello, on why she chose the winning story:
I chose "The Cherry Tree" for several reasons, one of which is that I thought the subject matter felt genuinely poignant and relevant in an organic, almost casual way (instead of being either defiantly mundane or "straining for Importance" in ways that feel more constructed), but mainly because I felt completely, 100% immersed in the subjective world view of the protagonist. The way he saw things--from the merits of spanking his newly adopted kids who are barely more than toddlers, to the passionate way he feels about his wife--didn't strike me as always "conventionally sympathetic," but as unique, quirky and even at times problematic, but always believable. I felt wholly convinced that he was living his life according to his personal creed. Often, in fiction, even in stories with very strong voice, the sensibility/beliefs of the author creeps in through the cracks, and when a character views something in a different way than the way the author might, there is a sense of the author attempting to convince the reader that the character really believes such-and-such even though (wink-wink at the reader), WE know that's not how it is. In "Cherry Tree," that veil felt completely removed. The world felt fully the characters' and we intensely inhabited the skin of this new husband/father, who is perhaps in over his head.