We’re thrilled to announce the results of the 2014 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Contest, for which memoirist and essayist Robert Root was judge.
The winning essay is Dave Zoby’s “My Brother Arrives in Kansas.” Root chose Beth Richards’ “Fight” as the runner-up from among the many, many fine entries we received. Both will be published in Issue 17.1, due in print just in time for AWP in Minneapolis!
The finalists were:
Carolyn Flynn, “Resurrection”
Gail Griffin, “From the Middle of Nowhere, or If You Lived Here You’d Like Meatloaf”
Mary Kudenov, “Threadbare”
Nick Neely, “The Book of Agate”
Anittah Patrick, “The Bees”
Kelley Shinn, “Airy Nothings”
Published twice annually by Michigan State University Press, Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction is a journal devoted to publishing notable, innovative work in literary (creative) nonfiction. We think of the genre as flexible, fluid, and expansive, and so we’re looking for essays–lyrical, familiar, personal, nature, environmental, travel, cultural, graphic—that knock our socks off.
We love to read nonfiction that is self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical. We want to publish the best literary nonfiction, pieces that reveal a love of the shape of a sentence as well as a line of inquiry. In short, we encourage submissions across the full spectrum of the genre.
Contest judge Scott Russell Sanders chose Patricia Park’s essay, “How to Run a Supermarket,” as the winner of the 9th Annual Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Contest:
“What begins as a wry how-to manual on running a supermarket opens into a study in immigrant-family dynamics, a sketch of social change in a Brooklyn neighborhood, a lament about the poor fit between formal education and retail work, and a coming-of-age story, all deftly braided together by a thoroughly engaging narrator. … While the essay ends without her having made a decision [about whether to succeed her father in running the business], it seems clear that the narrator has no wish to work 364 days a year, fretting over deliveries, snooping on shoplifters, apologizing to customers, chasing the dream of ‘success.’ Nor does she wish to become, like her mother, a timid servant forever muttering, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ The second-person narrative voice, which can easily become stilted, is handled here with wit and skill, obliquely revealing a transformative personal history while telling us, with an insider’s precise knowledge, what it’s like to serve the picky, penny-pinching, by turns infuriating and mystifying public.”
“How to Run a Supermarket” will appear in the spring issue, due in print at the beginning of February 2014.
Park’s essay was chosen from among nine finalists that included …
“Holy Land,” by Tom Montgomery Fate
“A Creature Was Stirring,” by Gail Griffin
“Coming Out,” by Penny Guisinger
“The Cast of Sylvia,” by Michelle Pilar Hamill
“Candling Delicious,” by Jennifer Bowen Hicks
“My Brother and What Comes from Wreckage,” by Molly May
“The Saltwater Twin,” by Maia Morgan
“Pes of Pop,” by Dawnell Smith