One Story Receives Whiting Literary Magazine Prize

We are thrilled to announce that One Story is the recipient of a 2020 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize. The $60,000 prize, awarded over the next three years, will be used to build capacity and strengthen One Story’s impact in the lead-up to our twentieth anniversary.

From the judges’ citation: “Over the last two decades, One Story has become a standard-bearer for elegance in magazine publishing; each lithe issue, its design an homage to zine culture, contains a single riveting short story. This form is often likened to the sonnet, being short and perfectible, but the fictions in One Story create sumptuous, almost novelistic worlds. The magazine has assiduously built a warm and vital community of writers and mentors.  Favoring new and untested writers and never publishing the same one twice, One Story is a critical port of arrival.”

The Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes acknowledge, reward, and encourage organizations that actively nurture the writers who tell us, through their art, what is important. Four other journals received the 2020 prize: Conjunctions, Foglifter, Kweli, and Nat. Brut. We are excited to share this honor with them. Read more about the prizes and the winners here.

My Own Third Blended Thing: An Interview with Ayşe Papatya Bucak

Though our 2020 Literary Debutante Ball has been postponed, we’re still promoting the work of our incredible 2020 Debs. We hope you consider supporting Ayşe Papatya Bucak, and all the authors who are releasing books during this challenging time, by purchasing their books.

The Trojan War Museum is a collection of short stories that explores myriad imaginative intersections between East and West, history and memory, myth and fact, and collective and personal identity. In “Good Fortune”—also published in One Story’s issue #255—a birth-tourism destination hotel in Florida is plagued by a series of threatening letters. The displacement and pain of an Armenian refugee is “performed” for an American fundraiser audience in “The Dead,” and in “The History of Girls,” a group of dead girls buried under the rubble of their school communicate with the ones still living. Each of the collection’s ten stories portrays a distinct and rich world, told with both grandness and humility, humor and grace.

Talia Aharoni: Where were you when you found out The Trojan War Museum was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

Ayşe Papatya Bucak: I was at a writing residency, Willapa Bay AIR, which is on the West Coast. My phone rang really early in the morning and it was my agent. My heart pretty much stopped. After she told me Norton wanted to buy the book, I tried to call my mom, but she wasn’t home, so I wandered out of my cabin and over to the main dining room. Another writer, a poet named Amy Sailer, was there and she will forever be the first person I told and the first person to give me a big hug. The other residents, who I consider dear friends now, bought me sparkling soda and a chocolate bar and made me a card. It was actually kind of amazing to be among near-strangers and away from home, yet amongst a group of people who absolutely understood how important it was for me and who made it a big deal.

TA: There’s a fascinating confluence of both East and West in many of these stories—a meeting point between civilizations and worldviews that seem to be very much at odds. How did you attempt to treat the “clash” of cultures in this collection?

APB: Because I’m half Turkish and half American, I don’t consider it a clash, I consider it a blend or an intersection. I don’t have two cultures at odds inside of me; I’m my own third blended thing, so I tried to write stories like that. Each of the story ideas came to me when some moment of Turkishness popped up in my very American life (like when I read a newspaper article about a Turkish girls’ school that had exploded). But as I wrote more and more stories, I started to see way more similarities between East and West than I did differences.

TA: Another major theme that seems to stem from the East-West dichotomy is the idea of displacement—from the Turkish wrestler interrogated by a border official in “A Cautionary Tale,” to the Armenian genocide survivor whose story of misery is paraded around Key West in “The Dead.” These stories seem to challenge the notion that emigrating West, specifically to the U.S., is an inherently fortunate thing, despite its often “desirable” status. (See: the parents in “Good Fortune” for whom the other stories might act as a sort of cautionary tale?)

APB: I think anyone who is the child of an immigrant knows that emigrating West involves a lot of sacrifice and loss. My father was extremely assimilated, and he spoke brilliant English even before he came to the US, but he was still apart from his extended family, he was still held back from pursuing the career he had held in Turkey. And he had a good experience compared to a lot of people. Generalizations are always risky, though. Lots of people immigrate due to circumstances that are far more difficult than my father’s were. And refugees are in a totally different situation, of course. But I don’t think anyone who leaves home considers it to be without loss. Even someone like me, who left Turkey when I was four, I know that I lost something—I don’t know what exactly, but something.

TA: Each story embodies a particular, brilliantly-wrought world—but there are certainly some common threads. For one, there’s a grandness of narrative in which the stories take on a quasi-mythical quality. Can you elaborate on the significance of mythology in this collection, in terms of both plot and form?

APB: At some point I decided to see just how much a short story could fit. And I suspect that desire to write bigger, to make stories that were quite large in scale and scope, led to my embrace of mythology. Myth is a natural way to tell an epic tale in a small space. And the voice of myth—that omniscience—was useful to me. I also recently found a school project that I did around second grade that was a retelling of Greek mythology, so perhaps it’s just something I was always drawn to. Not to mention a lot of the Turkish literature that was first available to me consisted of Turkish fairy tales—those tales have long been an influence.

TA: The stories feel thoroughly researched—from the incorporation of Greek and Turkish mythology and lore, to the artwork of French painter Ingres, and even the history of the sponge diving industry. Can you tell us about the extent of your research, and what you were most surprised to discover in the process?

APB: As someone who doesn’t feel very Turkish (my mother is American and I don’t speak Turkish), Turkey, or my own Turkish identity, has long been my research project. So, to some extent, the research process has been lifelong and cumulative. But the big surprise was that I love doing research. I have some regrets now that I wasn’t a history major. For nearly every story I read dozens of books—Appalachian literature to help me write a story set in Western Virginia, books on carpet motifs, books on modern art, books by genocide survivors, the list goes on and on, but I loved doing that. For a while I had almost 200 books out from my university library. I’ve got it down to about half a dozen now—but only after a librarian looked at my account with one eyebrow extremely arched. 

Talia Aharoni is a fiction writer living in NYC. She completed an MFA at the New School with a focus in fiction, and is the recipient of the Provost’s scholarship and the 2019-2020 Teachers & Writers Magazine Editorial Fellowship. She served as an editorial intern at One Story literary magazine, editorial assistant for LIT magazine, and editorial associate for Teachers & Writers Magazine. She’s at work on her debut novel.

OTS #63: Erika Yip’s “Fifty Square Feet Within”

Erika Yip’s “Fifty Square Feet Within” is a story that gripped me from the beginning with its quiet, claustrophobic atmosphere and then held me at the edge of my seat right up till the end. Tian is a teen girl living with her mom in the Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong. They share extremely cramped quarters in a subdivided apartment, and her mother works long hours at two different jobs to pay for their food and lodging.

Because of her mother’s work hours and her own school schedule, Tian usually only sees her mother for the duration of a single meal a day: dinner. But one evening her mom doesn’t come home. And Tian has to figure out what to do next.

“Fifty Square Feet Within” reads like a mystery. It builds suspense as Tian takes matters into her own hands, and it conjures a feeling of claustrophobia that it maintains even when she steps out of her confined living space and ventures out into the larger world. Erika Yip’s story is one of the winners of our Teen Writing Contest, and we’re excited to be putting it into your hands. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

To read an interview with the author, please visit our website.

One Story Issue #268: Jenzo DuQue’s “The Rest of Us”

In the same way you listen to Willie Nelson sing and pluck his worn-out guitar and know he was meant to be a singer plucking a worn-out guitar, when you read Jenzo DuQue, you know he was meant to be a writer. His prose has an urgency to it, a forward lean, and his voice is fluid. He blends sounds, words, languages. He writes with his ear.

“The Rest of Us” tells the story of three boys growing up in a melting pot that refuses to melt. José, Cristian, and Frail Boy (as the narrator is known) are street-smart kids pumped up with their own ambitions and tamped down by societal expectations. They have to figure out how to stand their ground while taking their cues from others, and the older they get, the more cues there are to sift through.

“Suddenly,” Frail Boy tells us, “we were young men.” And there they are, stepping out of childhood and into a dangerous adult world that has been right under their noses the whole time they were growing up. What unfolds does so easily and brilliantly—or so it seems, until nothing about it is easy or brilliant, until everything about it is complicated and, at times, dangerous.

I don’t want to tell you too much. I don’t want you to read this story with any expectation other than to be blown away by its narrative drive and its wonderful blend of languages. We’re thrilled to be publishing Jenzo DuQue’s “The Rest of Us,” and we look forward to what he does next.

Click here to read a Q&A with the author.

Use Your Writing to Subvert, to Inform, to Speak Truth to Power: An Interview with Christina Hammonds Reed

Though our 2020 Literary Debutante Ball has been postponed, we’re still promoting the work of our incredible 2020 Debs. We hope you consider supporting Christina Hammonds Reed, and all the authors who are releasing books during this challenging time, by purchasing their books.

In Los Angeles in 1992, race relations are reaching a fever pitch. As riots roar through the city in response to the police beating of Rodney King, high school senior Ashley Bennet is facing her own reckoning. The school year is coming to an end, she feels as though she’s losing everyone she loves to other priorities, and a rumor she starts reaches a fever pitch of its own, at her wealthy, predominantly white, private high school. With significant parallels to our current times, Christina Hammonds Reed’s The Black Kids, out now, is about coming-of-age in a fire, both literal and figurative – little sparks of tragedy in a teenager’s life, as the world quite literally, burns around her.

Vanessa Chan: Where were you when you found out The Black Kids was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

Christina Hammonds Reed: I was at my day job at the time, which incidentally was the day job I most enjoyed out of the many random jobs I’ve had over the years. My agent called me so I rushed out of the office to take a “coffee break”. When he shared the news with me, I could barely contain my excitement. I was jumping up and down in heels outside a very corporate building in Downtown Los Angeles. Then I calmly and rather anti-climactically went back to work. I didn’t really share it with people outside of my super close circle of friends. I was terrified it would all be taken away. Eventually, I had various celebratory dinners and drinks with my family and closest friends. But the day itself was especially meaningful to me because I received the news finalizing the deal on the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, so there was so much joy to be had in a day that otherwise would’ve been painful.

VC: Which did you write first, the novel or your short story (published in One Teen Story, Issue #41)? And how long did the novel take you to write?

CHR: I wrote the short story first! I had the idea kicking around in my head as a graduate thesis film back in 2010, but ultimately decided against it. However, the story wouldn’t let me go, and just felt increasingly imperative with the rise of smartphones documenting police brutality and the effects of unequal policing on Black and Brown communities over the last decade. When the short story was published, I was un-agented. My (eventual) agent reached out to me and we had a really great meeting where he asked if I had considered expanding it into a novel. My first impulse was actually to say I’d said what I had to say, and was ready to move on to the next story. But the more I thought about it, it really did feel like there was so much left to explore, specifically as it relates to class, race, mental health and what it’s like to come of age as a Black girl with some degree of relative privilege. The novel took about two and half years to write from outline to submission. I had a job that entire time and was grieving the death of both of my maternal grandparents, so it took me a little longer than I’d hoped. But it also helped me stay focused on something other than grief. The task of completing it felt like a way of honoring them.

VC: In the novel, there is a point where a well-meaning friend tells Ashley that she’s not, “Blackity Black.” A lot of the story references the different ways where Ashley is either “too Black” or “not Black enough.” Why is this part of her identity important to interrogate?

CHR: I think for those of us who grew up in non-Black areas and going to non-Black schools, this is very much part of the microaggressions we were regularly subjected to because the media portrayals of Blackness, up until very recently, have been so limited. Film, music, books, visual art, all of these, seep into our consciousness as a society and when those images are focused solely on Black struggle and degradation, non-Black people will look at a Black person who doesn’t fit that stereotype and say, “Well you’re not that. Therefore, you’re not Black.” Which is absolutely incorrect. The Black community isn’t and never has been a monolith and while we have this powerful shared and unique experience of being Black in America, Blackness doesn’t only look like one thing and never has.

VC: It seems as though this novel is both an homage to and an indictment of the city of Los Angeles. What do you love and mourn for in LA?

CHR: I love the socioeconomic, cultural and religious diversity of this place. I love the geographic diversity of this city. I love that LA in its current iteration was actually founded by Black and Brown folks, as well as originally being the land of the Tongva people. And what I mourn is that these same people who helped make this city as beautiful and culturally rich as it is are being pushed out because of the economic realities of being unable to compete with wealthy transplants, rising housing costs, and a more stratified economy. Even homes in what was traditionally considered the hood up until fairly recently are now going for over a million dollars. Gentrification and revitalization projects are good for some but often they come at the expense of Black and Brown people who get pushed out of places they’ve called home for generations. And really that gentrification has been enabled by years of neglect, of political and economic disenfranchisement in the years leading up to and following the riots, from which many of these Black and Brown communities never fully recovered.

VC: You were eight years old when the LA riots broke out; your character Ashley is a senior in high school. What did it take to imagine her world at the time? What were your resources—your own memory, or conversations with family/friends, or historical research, or anything else? Did you draw from parallels in the present?

CHR: I was young at the time, but old enough to remember the fires, the anger and hurt of people who looked like me on the screen. I remember wondering why they were in pain and how it related to my personal experience of blackness. Similarly, Ashley is questioning herself and her community albeit in a much more mature way. That said, I still had to do a lot of research to make sure I was getting things right, even down to flipping through old issues of Seventeen and Vogue, etc. to see what Ashley and her friends would be wearing. Of particular help was Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 and a compendium of articles by the LA Times called Understanding the Riots, among others. I also spent hours on YouTube watching news reports, listening to music, and watching music videos of the era and the stories told therein. I wanted to fully immerse myself in 1992 and what it looked and sounded like. Also, one of the benefits of writing about somewhere where I currently live, is that everyone I spoke to about writing the book would offer memories of what their experiences of the riots had been. It was like we had shared this moment as a community and there was absolutely a desire to reminisce and reflect on it.

Honestly, I didn’t have to try too hard to draw parallels to the present. They’re inherent in this moment, unfortunately. Things have changed a bit, but also as we’ve seen with the recent George Floyd protests and the national and international outcry over the deaths of Black and Brown people at the hands of police, almost thirty years later we’re still grappling with how structural and systemic racism lead to a police force that doesn’t actually protect and serve all of us.

VC: You have a career and background in film and TV production. Did that aid you in writing this book?

CHR: Traditionally, screenwriting is very structured. There are very specific moments at which the inciting incident, rising action, climax, and denouements should theoretically take place in a conventional three-act structure. I relied on that in the outlining of the novel and making sure that I was moving plot along even within the more meandering context of Ashley’s interior shift. That said, I frequently blew up what I thought the plot was going to be along the way, most especially in the third “act” of the book. Mostly, I think it helped me not feel overwhelmed by what at the time felt like a very Herculean task. Especially given that it was my very first attempt at writing a book.

VC: What is the one thing you want your readers to take away when they read The Black Kids? What kind of advice would you give young Black writers?

CHR: I purposefully wrote Ashley as an incredibly flawed character because I thought it was important to illustrate that it’s not about where you start, it’s about where you end up. She makes huge mistakes over the course of the book. She hurts people and herself. She isn’t as informed as she should be. But she grows to be kinder, more empathetic; she takes ownership of her mistakes, and speaks up and out. She starts to love herself and really see herself as part of a larger community. I hope to convey to younger readers that it’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. Messing up is part of life and what’s important is personal growth. And I hope that it builds empathy, awareness and an even stronger desire to advocate for Black lives in non-Black readers who may not have inhabited a world like Ashley’s before.

To young Black writers, I would say, Your stories are important and worthy of being shared and you don’t need to seek validation from the “right” schools or the “right” programs before you can consider yourself a “real writer.” Also, be kind to yourself right now. This is a moment that can be especially stressful for one’s mental health given that not only are we in a pandemic, we’re also in a moment of huge racial reckoning in which the oppression of Black, Brown, and trans bodies is at the forefront of the national conversation. It’s OK to feel drained or depressed and less focused on writing as you normally would. Take care of yourself and eventually, when you feel stronger, use your writing to subvert, to inform, to speak truth to power, and to showcase our joy and our love.

Vanessa Chan is a Malaysian writer who writes about race, colonization, and women who don’t toe the line. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Conjunctions, The Rumpus, Porter House Review, and more. Vanessa is a Fiction editor at TriQuarterly Magazine, an Assistant fiction editor at Pithead Chapel, a reader for One Story, and an MFA candidate at The New School. Her writing has received support from Tin House, Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, Aspen Words, and Disquiet International. She is at work on a novel.

One Story Issue #267: Michael Kardos’s “The Wish”

“I’ve never been hit in the face, and neither have you.” So begins our new issue, “The Wish.” It’s a great first sentence, a great hook, because not only do we not know who’s speaking; we don’t know who they’re speaking to. (Are you talking to me?) And the authority in those eleven words! Soon enough, it’s revealed that the speaker is Sean, a poetry editor at a small publishing house who places a high value on authenticity and wants to do right by his authors. He also wants to do right by someone he’s recently lost. When a manuscript comes across his desk, sent by the poet’s mother, Sean sees an opportunity to do some good in a world that, for him, has been particularly bad lately.

In general, I’m usually not drawn to short stories, novels, and films about writers or editors or the publishing business. Not because I don’t think those are worthy subjects, but because I usually don’t find them very compelling. There’s a reason why films about writers often don’t devote a lot of footage to the main characters actually writing: it’s boring to watch someone write. (It’s also boring to watch someone edit.) By that same token, get any six authors together at a dinner table and chances are the subject of writing won’t even come up. Who wants to talk about how they spent their morning moving words around? So I was guarded when I began reading “The Wish” and realized it was about an editor. But that first sentence had me, and soon the voice had me, and soon I’d read right to the end and wanted to start the story all over again.

Michael Kardos is a tremendous talent. In his hands, “The Wish” isn’t about an editor or about the publishing industry or about any aspect of the writing process. It’s a story about a damaged person who’s trying, simultaneously, both to heal and to do the right thing. We’re thrilled to be ushering it into the world, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. After you read the story, be sure to check out my Q&A with Michael, wherein he reveals which character showed up on the page unexpectedly and explains why he thinks of “The Wish” as a “yo-yo story.” (Note: There are no yo-yos in “The Wish.”)

One Story Issue #266: Ian Bassingthwaighte’s “The Crucible”

Our new issue was acquired by contributing editor Will Allison, so I’m passing the mic to him to make introductions. The floor is yours, Mr. Allison! –PR

Twenty years ago at a writers conference in California, I was lucky to make friends with an energetic, irreverent woman, Jane, and one of her teenaged daughters, Rose. This was around the same time my wife and I were deciding if and when to start a family, and Jane, having a big head start in that department, shared a lot of parenthood wisdom I was grateful for.

A few nights after I got home from the conference, Jane sent a funny email telling me to disregard anything positive she had said about having kids. Her daughters were driving her crazy; she couldn’t get any writing done. Her best parenting advice at the moment, she said, was don’t do it!

Twelve hours later, Jane emailed again to say she didn’t mean it. In fact, she wanted to take back every negative thing she had ever said about being a parent. That afternoon, she wrote, Rose had been driving with a friend when an oncoming truck crossed the center line and caused a collision. Both girls were killed.

Ever since then, I have struggled to get my head around what Rose’s death and its aftermath must have been like for Jane. If I’m being honest, the thought of it all was often too terrifying and too heartbreaking to even contemplate, especially after my wife and I had a daughter of our own two years later.

The shock and pain of Rose’s death came back to me as I read “The Crucible,” by Ian Bassingthwaighte. What opens as the story of conjoined twins Paige and Emma becomes the story of their parents, Alistair and Johanna, when, only three paragraphs in, the girls die of pneumonia at age 12. What follows is an exquisite meditation on grief and loss, limned by Bassingthwaighte’s distinctive, bittersweet humor. More than anything else I’ve read, the story made me feel like I was getting a glimpse of what Jane might have gone through in those awful first days after Rose died. What struck me most is the story’s intricate intertwining of love and loss. The strangely beautiful ending—which finds Alistair and Johanna breaking into the local mortuary—reminded me of how Jane ended that second email. “You and Deborah should make your family just as you want it,” Jane wrote. “No guts, no glory.”

I hope you find “The Crucible” as memorable and moving as we did here at One Story.

Black Lives Matter

One Story stands in solidarity with the protests that have been happening across the country and throughout the world. We are outraged and saddened by the violence and oppression that has systematically devastated the lives of Black individuals and the Black community as a whole. We have also been closely following the conversations that have been taking place about race and inequity in the publishing industry, and we have been engaging in deep dialogues with our own staff, volunteers, authors, and board. 

In order for structural change to happen, it must happen at all levels, from the Big 5 publishers to small nonprofits like ours. With this in mind, and in order to keep ourselves accountable, we would like to share the steps that One Story is currently taking to increase the inclusivity of our organization as a whole. We are committed to the following:

  • Expanding our editorial staff, volunteer readers, and instructors to make One Story more representative and inclusive. 
  • Consciously seeking out and consistently publishing more work of BIPOC writers in our pages.
  • Launching a paid, extended editorial apprentice program, giving BIPOC students and recent graduates an opportunity to learn about all aspects of a small literary publisher and forge connections with peers and potential future employers in the industry.

We will have more news about each of these initiatives very soon. In the meantime, CLMP, an organization of which we are a proud member, has put together this comprehensive list of literary organizations whose founding missions are to support and champion the writing of people of color. We urge you to have a look, share it widely, and if you can, support these independent publishers and the important work they do.

Sincerely,

Maribeth Batcha & Hannah Tinti
One Story Co-Founders

To contact One Story about this matter, please email maribeth@one-story.com.

One Story Issue #265: Mary Grimm’s “Fate and Ruin”

Hi Folks! Our new issue–which is one of the funniest stories I’ve read in a long time (and we could all use some funny right about now, right?) was edited by contributing editor Will Allison, so I’m handing the mic over to him to make the introductions. Take it away, Will! — PR

Dorrie, the main character of Mary Grimm’s “Fate and Ruin,” has gotten herself into a pickle. She left her happy life as a bartender in sunny Palm Coast, Florida, to move to Cleveland with Jerry, a guy she met during a night of barhopping. But not long after she and Jerry get to Ohio, they break up, and now Dorrie finds herself stranded in Cleveland, living alone, trying to figure out what comes next.

Unfortunately, finding direction has never been Dorrie’s strong suit. It doesn’t help that her social circle is mostly limited to three people: Rose, her sad-sack neighbor; Jerry, her ex; and Bob Lilly, a self-styled polymath that Dorrie has a history with. But at least Dorrie has a job. She works as the assistant office manager at a slightly shady day care that gets some unexpected news:

“The whole day care had their feathers in an uproar because some celeb was going to bring their kid there while they were shooting a movie in Cleveland. I didn’t get excited about it because a) the celeb wasn’t going to be hanging out at the day care; and b) how big of a celeb could they be if they were coming to our day care, which I said, and which made me massively unpopular. But come on—it was not going to be Chris Pratt’s kid or Chris Hemsworth’s or any of the Chrises. It was going to be the kid of Girl in Restaurant or Guy Who Gets Pushed Out of Airplane.”

That voice—Dorrie’s frank, irreverent running commentary—is the irresistible current that carries this story along. It’s also what made the story so unputdownable for me, especially when four-year-old Minkie arrives at the day care and attaches herself to Dorrie, leading to one of the funniest and most tender endings I’ve read in a long time. As a fan of Mary Grimm’s work for more than thirty years, I’m very happy to be sharing this story with you.

The One Story Literary Debutante Ball: 10 years & counting!

April 30th should have been our 10th One Story Literary Debutante Ball.

Due to the current pandemic, we’ve postponed to a later date (which we hope to set once the world rights itself). But today we’re missing this joyous gathering of writers and readers. We should be clinking glasses and sharing books and laughing and dancing. We should be watching debut authors proudly walk down the aisle arm in arm with their mentors, and listening to inspirational speeches from honorees like Colum McCann, Alexander Chee, Jim Shepard, Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Dani Shapiro, Lan Samantha Chang, Ann Patchett, Dan Chaon, and Celeste Ng.

One Story is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, and the Debutante Ball is our annual fundraiser. This loss of income comes at a challenging time, and is a big blow to our organization. If you’re in a position to donate (at any level), we’d truly and gratefully welcome the support. You can do so by going here. A big thank you to those who sponsored this year’s (postponed) ball before the world changed and our plans fell apart: Manhattanville College MFA, The John S. Hilson Family Fund, Penguin Random House, Catapult, Janklow & Nesbit, Aragi, Inc., The Book Group, Jane and Bert Emke, The Raich Family, Kevin Reymond, Dani Shapiro and Michael Maren.

To keep the flame of literary joy alive, we’ve put together a slideshow of past Debutante Balls and posted it below. We hope you’ll pour yourself a cocktail and enjoy. Underneath the slideshow, we’ve compiled a list of ALL of our past & present debutantes. It’s wonderful to see the names of so many talented authors who have graced the pages of One Story. Eventually, our community will make it to the other side of this. And when we do, we plan on gathering you all up and dancing our hearts out.

Photo Credits: Aslan Chalom & koitz

One Story Literary Debutantes are past One Story authors who have recently published their first books. We celebrate them each year at our annual fundraiser, the One Story Literary Debutante Ball, where they are escorted by a mentor and formally “announced” to the literary world.

2020

  • Chuck Augello, The Inexplicable Gray Space We Call Love
  • Ayşe Papatya Bucak, The Trojan War Museum
  • Christina Hammonds Reed, The Black Kids

2019

  • Brad Felver, The Dogs of Detroit
  • Lydia Fitzpatrick, Lights All Night Long
  • Joseph Moldover, Every Moment After
  • Erin Somers, Stay Up with Hugo Best
  • Bryan Washington, Lot
  • Jake Wolff, The History of Living Forever

2018

  • Kendra Fortmeyer, Hole in the Middle
  • Chelsey Johnson, Stray City
  • Cheston Knapp, Up Up, Down Down

***One Story 2018 “Little Debbies”

  • Sanjay Agnihotri, One Story Issue #236: “Guerrilla Marketing”
  • Maud Streep, One Story Issue #234: “The Crazies”
  • Lucas Schaefer, One Story Issue #225: “An Oral History of the Next Battle of the Sexes”

2017

  • Sam Allingham, The Great American Songbook
  • Angelica Baker, Our Little Racket
  • Clare Beams, We Show What We Have Learned
  • Julie Buntin, Marlena
  • Anne Corbitt, Rules for Lying
  • Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, The Sleeping World
  • Lisa Ko, The Leavers
  • Emily Ruskovich, Idaho
  • Melissa Yancy, Dog Years

2016

  • Brian Booker, Are You Here for What I’m Here For?
  • Kim Brooks, The Houseguest
  • Matthew Cheney, Blood: Stories
  • Charles Haverty, Excommunicados
  • Naomi Williams, Landfalls
  • Cote Smith, Hurt People

2015

  • Mia Alvar, In the Country
  • Matthew Baker, If You Find This
  • Austin Bunn, The Brink
  • Scott Cheshire, High as the Horses’ Bridles
  • Diane Cook, Man V. Nature
  • Katie Coyle, Vivian Apple at the End of the World
  • Andrew Roe, The Miracle Girl
  • Matt Sumell, Making Nice
  • Ted Thompson, The Land of Steady Habits
  • Anne Valente, By Light We Knew Our Names

2014

  • Molly Antopol, The UnAmericans
  • Rachel Cantor, A Highly Unlikely Scenario
  • Amelia Kahaney, The Brokenhearted
  • Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You
  • David James Poissant, The Heaven of Animals
  • James Scott, The Kept
  • Ben Stroud, Byzantium

2013

  • L. Annette Binder, Rise
  • Manuel Gonzales, The Minature Wife
  • Ben Miller, River Bend Chronicle
  • Leigh Newman, Still Points North
  • Ethan Rutherford, The Peripatetic Coffin
  • Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn
  • Douglas Watson, The Era of Not Quite

**One Story 2013 Staff Debs:

  • Marie-Helene Bertino, Safe as Houses
  • Elliott Holt, You Are One of Them
  • Julie Innis, Three Squares a Day With Occasional Torture

2012

  • Ramona Ausubel, No one is Here Except All of Us
  • Megan Mayhew Bergman, Birds of a Lesser Paradise
  • Caitlin Horrocks, This is Not Your City
  • Katherine Karlin, Send Me Work
  • Miroslav Penkov, East of the West
  • Anna Solomon, The Little Bride
  • Arlaina Tibensky, And Then Things Fall Apart

2011

  • Robin Black, If I Loved You I Would Tell You This
  • Susanna Daniel, Stiltsville
  • Seth Fried, The Great Frustration
  • Jerry Gabriel, Drowned Boy
  • Jim Hanas, Why They Cried.

2010

*This Debutante Ball (our first) featured authors who published their first short stories in One Story, escorted by a writing mentor:

  • Sam Allingham, escorted by Dan Chaon
  • Ramona Ausubel, escorted by Michelle Latiolais
  • Nell Casey, escorted by Tamara Jenkins
  • Amelia Kahaney, escorted by Michael Cunningham
  • Cheston Knapp, escorted by Jim & Karen Shepard
  • Grant Monroe, escorted by Jonathan Lethem
  • Cote Smith, escorted by Deb Olin Unferth
  • Patrick Somerville, escorted by Hannah Tinti
  • Arlaina Tibensky, escorted by Victor LaValle