Dear readers and friends of Solstice,
We were thrilled with the number and quality of entries we received for this year’s fiction contest and heartened at how many young and emerging writers as well as established writers sent us their work. It was an honor to be entrusted with these fine stories. We thank our two in-house contest readers, Brenda Sparks Prescott and Lew McCreary, who helped us select the finalists and the Editors Pick.
Please read our comments below on the evocative, relevant stories chosen to be honored this year.
Anjali Mitter Duva and Lee Hope, Fiction Co-Editors
Winner and Runner-Up selected by judge Jabari Asim:
The winning entry is “Fission,” a concise and poignant portrayal of Johnny, who carries his father’s wartime trauma into his own life as a janitor in Area 51 where he coexists for decades with a nuclear reactor. In spare yet evocative prose filled with imagery of atoms, energy, and fission—violence and darkness hinted at but never named—Rayne Weinstein evokes the senselessness of war, the disconnect between generations, and the disturbing combination of power and powerlessness of one man with nuclear energy at his fingertips.
Runner-up is the moving story “Of Tides and Melons.” Daniel Leonard intertwines the rising tide of the ocean and the rising panic of his protagonist, who has lost direction in the fog, with the grief and guilt that rose within him at the recent loss of a dear friend. Elements of wry humor accentuate the intensity of emotions, rounding out a character who is self-reflective and deeply human.
Aaron Tillman’s “Acting Out,” a complex, sometimes humorous coming-of-age story depicts the almost disastrous effect of an eccentric, self-obsessed actress mother on her adopted teen daughter. Told from the daughter’s perspective, the story deals with the theatre, a rock music band, spoken poetry, racism, and parental neglect.
In the eponymous story “Big Boy” by Filipino-American Ian Lindsay, a well-read, sensitive, and beloved young man loses it under the influence of LSD when a night with his close friends, meant for recreational intake of various substances, goes awry. One of those friends relates the sequence of that evening’s events, and an ending that is as sadly predictable as it is shocking.
“In Praise of Black Lovers” by Christian Douglass is an important historical take on the Greenwood community of Black professionals combined with profound insights into film history. A young man seems to be the designated heir of his father’s film theater as he reveals his family and others in the Greenwood community prior to the massacre.
Laura Krughoff’s fabulously humorous yet poignant “Living Alone” captures the loneliness of a lesbian woman dealing with the grief of a broken love relationship and with her parents’ deaths. The voice is darkly ironic with sharp-edged insights into our culture, lesbian love and moving on. A gifted piece that combines humor with depth perception and sympathy.