Becky Mandelbaum has been named this year’s winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and her collection of short stories will be published by the University of Georgia Press. Mandelbaum’s Bad Kansas will be available from the UGA Press in fall 2017.
The competition seeks to encourage writers of excellent short stories, while bringing award-winning work to a wider audience by offering publication of a book-length collection and a $1,000 prize. The Flannery O’Connor Award has helped launch the literary careers of such previous winners as Ha Jin, Antonya Nelson, Rita Ciresi and Mary Hood.
Becky Mandelbaum is from Kansas but currently lives and works in Mount Rainier National Park. She is the winner of the 2013 Lawrence Art Center’s Langston Hughes Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Great Jones Street, Salt Hill, Juked, South Dakota Review, Midwestern Gothic, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Kansas City Voices.
“What’s most impressive about this collection of stories, in which Kansas is as much a metaphor for dislocation and disconnection as it is a state, is that Ms. Mandelbaum has us fretting about matters worth the bother: what lines we dare not cross, how deep love can cut, what to stop wishing for, when to worry that the world is wobbling out of round, and why we tell the lies we must. Hers are characters riven by need, kids and adults about to go which-away toward a betimes terrible self-knowledge. Bad Kansas is so good it hurts,” said Flannery O’Connor series editor Lee K. Abbott.
The finalists for this year were Pete Fromm’s Under the Rocks and Stones, Jeff Greene’s Stories from the Cold Room, Edward Hamlin’s After Dreamland and Other Stories, Soren Palmer’s The Message Board and William Pei’s Unrequited Loves.
The winning books from last year’s competition, The Current That Carries by Lisa Graley and The Jungle Around Us by Anne Raeff, will be published in September and October 2016. Copies will be available from the UGA Press, major retailers, and local independent booksellers. Submissions for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction are accepted Apr. 1 – May 31 each year; for guidelines and more information about the award can be found here.