Issue #239: Eric McMillan’s We Go Together

This month’s story comes to us via contributing editor Will Allison, so I’m turning the bridge over to him for the introductions. Take the com, Will! — PR

I was first drawn to Eric McMillan’s “We Go Together” by the story’s setting—a U.S. army base, 1996, near the Korean Demilitarized Zone—and by the author’s résumé, which includes ten years of military service in Bosnia, Korea, and Iraq. I was hoping the story might inform my understanding of present-day tensions between the United States and North Korea, which it did. But it turns out the story’s chief mission is much broader: an exploration of race relations within the U.S. Army.

“During the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq,” says McMillan, “I was assigned to a battalion support platoon. Most of those soldiers were African-American, eighteen- to twenty-year-olds. I was a white, twenty-four-year-old college kid in a position of power. If that scenario sounds inherently problematic to you, it is. But in the army, you’re not supposed to act like it is.”

Though “We Go Together” is set in Korea, McMillan draws heavily upon his experience in Iraq. The story’s central relationship involves Lieutenant Woods, a white officer assigned to transform a motley, mostly black platoon, and Sergeant Burrell, a respected black section leader who chafes at Woods’s by-the-book leadership style. When crisis befalls the platoon, the two men’s capacity to work together is put to a high-stakes test.

Along the way, the story mines the inherent tension between the army’s ethos of meritocracy and its reluctance to acknowledge institutional racism. There’s also a lot of fascinating army-speak, which is its own kind of poetry. We hope you enjoy McMillan’s ear for language—and his story—as much as we did.

You can read our Q&A with the author here.

Announcing our 2018 Literary Debutantes


One Story proudly presents our 2018 Literary Debutantes:

And Alexander Chee, our Mentor of the Year!

Join us as we toast these three One Story authors who have published their first books in the past year! The One Story Literary Debutante Ball will take place on Friday, May 4th at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY.  We’ll have live music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, and specialty cocktails. It is our most important fundraising event of the year.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $75. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for the One Story Literary Debutante Ball, please contact:


In just a few days, the AWP conference will flap its way down to Tampa, bringing thousands of literary magazines, MFA programs, publishers, and writers to the Sunshine State. One Story will be there, too, and we hope that you’ll come visit us at Booth #1513. We’ll be selling discounted subscriptions, recent issues of One Story and One Teen Story, and custom-curated three packs of the magazine. We’ll also be registering people for our newest online class, and offering on-the-spot subscribers a spin on our Wheel of Fabulous Prizes. (How could you resist?) And — just when you thought we couldn’t get any cooler! — we’re co-hosting what promises to be a super fun dance party with Tin House and Kenyon Review on Thursday night:

Wondering which panels & readings to go to? We’ve got some suggestions! Here’s a list of every panel at the conference that will include One Story and One Teen Story authors and One Story editors:


Time: 9:00am – 10:15am

Location: Room 24, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: “I’m For Real”: Minority Professors in the Predominately White Classroom.

Panelists: Allison Amend, Adriana Ramirez, Dhipinder Walia, Marisa Matarazzo, Phillip Williams

Description: It’s a familiar and problematic narrative: White teacher goes into the hood to “save” urban students. Beyond this reductive trope there are real issues when there is a race, class, sexual orientation, or privilege divide between educator and students, especially if the educator is the member of a minority or traditionally marginalized group. What are the responsibilities and challenges for minority instructors in representing their own identities as they seek to educate those who are different?


Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Room 15, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: The Historical Women: Reimagining Past Narratives Through the Contemporary Female Perspective.

Panelists: Chanelle Benz, Amelia Gray, Min Jin Lee , Megan Mayhew Bergman, Lidia Yuknavitch

Description: “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul,” said Coretta Scott King during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. What can we learn from reimagined female historical narratives? What is their timely relevance in the current political climate? This panel will also discuss the craft of shaping a nonfiction tale to a modern day story, and how to create female characters that break barriers and make a history of their own.


Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Grand Salon C, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Sound and Fury: Understanding Voice in Fiction.

Panelists: John Fried, Irina Reyn, Emily Mitchell

Description: When it comes to fiction, what is voice? Is it simply characters talking to one another? Or is it related to tone or diction? And how do you teach it? This panel of experienced teachers and writers will consider where voice comes from, as well as how to use voice to play with narration, point of view, and style in your work.


Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Difficult History: Jewish Fiction in the Alt-Right World

Panelists: Emily Barton, Simone Zelitch, Irina Reyn, Amy Brill, Joanna Hershon

Description: What is Jewish fiction? Who can write it? Until recently, the answer looked much like Philip Roth: white, male, and Eastern European. But recent novels by women have subverted and reimagined Jewish narratives, challenging cultural norms and creating alternative histories with modern resonance. This panel explores what signifies fiction as Jewish, even in a secular story; the role of Jewish stories in unsettling political times; and the complexities of female authorship in patriarchal cultures.


Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: Finding the Understory: What Connects a Collection

Panelists: Mia Alvar , Laura van den Berg, Nina McConigley, Ramona Ausubel, Helen Phillips)

Description: Story collections can gain resonant coherence through the very tissue that connects their individual pieces and yet remain unequivocally collections, resisting novelization, or overt linkages such as recurring characters. What are the risks and rewards of writing a story collection with thematic through-lines? This panel will discuss collections that are unified by thematic currents but squarely resist novelization.


Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Florida Salon 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Bad Moon Rising: Writing It Weird in the South

Panelists: Alexander Lumans, Tiffany Quay Tyson, Jamie Quatro, Matthew Baker, Jamey Hatley
Description:  The practice of writing it weird in the South runs deep. Be it Flannery O’Connor’s gothic or Barry Hannah’s grotesqueries, the region breeds a Southern Comfort brand of the surreal. In this panel, five established and emerging fiction writers give voice to contemporary iterations of this regional tradition, ranging from steeplechase necromancers to bayou bestiaries. Through readings of their haunting and fantastic visions, these writers present an updated essence of the uncanny American South.


Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Finding the Understory: What Connects a Collection

Panelists: Mia Alvar, Laura van den Berg, Nina McConigley, Ramona Ausubel, Helen Phillips

Description:  Story collections can gain resonant coherence through the very tissue that connects their individual pieces and yet remain unequivocally collections, resisting novelization, or overt linkages such as recurring characters. What are the risks and rewards of writing a story collection with thematic through-lines? This panel will discuss collections that are unified by thematic currents but squarely resist novelization.


Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Ballroom A, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: Stranger and Truthier Than Truth: Fiction in the Age of Trump

Panelists: Manuel Gonzales, Helen Phillips, Angela Flournoy, Kelly Link, Marie-Helene Bertino

Description:  There’s an increasing movement to combat the turbulent political climate with nonfiction essays and personally revealing hot takes. However, fantasy worlds can act as society’s mirror just as acutely. Part of resisting can be frivolity and a refusal to eschew whimsy. In a post-fact world, the most equipped soldiers can be those who deal in making it up. Award-winning fiction writers will talk about why the “lie” of fiction matters now, and how fiction can be truthier than truth.



Time: 9:00am – 10am

Location: Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floo

Title:  Past as Present: The Relevance of History in Fiction.

Panelists: Amy Brill, Alexander Chee, Allison Amend, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Yoojin Grace Wuertz

Description: Historical fiction may conjure an image of a swooning Victorian lady or hardscrabble homesteader, but the contemporary meaning and urgency of novels set in the past is complex and often overlooked. This panel explores how the prism of history enables reflection that’s impossible in contemporary settings; how the subjectivity of interpreting history leads to innovation and discovery; the line between revising history and reimagining lives; and whether history may “belong” to anyone.


Time: 9:00am – 10:15am

Location: Florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Forthcoming: Debut Novelists on What They Wish They’d Known Before Publication

Panelists: Jessie Chaffee, Lisa Ko, Tiffany Jackson, Rachel Lyon, Patricia Park

Description: You have a book contract—now what? What can you expect and how can you make your book stand out in a noisy, crowded market? Recent debut novelists—of adult and YA, published by large and small houses—share advice on the run-up to publication, from the nuts and bolts of the process to savvy marketing. Topics include: publication timeline; navigating editorial and marketing conversations; websites; blurbs; reviews; independent publicists; creative promotion; book tours; and finding your readers.


Time: 10:30am – 11:45am

Location: Grand Salon C, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Writing Revolution: Not Why, but How.

Panelists: Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, Peter Mountford, Nayomi Munaweera

Description: What are the specific challenges of writing about resistance and protest movements? How do we balance ethics, polemics, and aesthetics? How do we portray the labor—emotional and otherwise—of change-makers? When depicting historical movements, what are the obligations to reality and the obligations to the imagination? This panel brings together writers for a craft discussion of how to write fiction about revolution, political violence, and entangled histories.


Time: 10:30am – 1:45am

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: The World and the Story: How Plot Maps Fictional Realities.

Panelists: Leah Stewart, Brock Clarke, Jung Yun, Brenda Peynado, Julialicia Case

Description: In fiction, there’s an interdependent relationship between world-building (the map) and narrative construction (the route). This panel will examine how writers employ different types of stories—the romance, the mystery, the quest—in service to different visions of reality. Why does a realist like Chekhov so often use the romance? For what purposes does a fantasy writer use the quest? How can a writer of literary fiction employ the quest or the mystery to investigate character?


Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Meeting Room 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Beyond 140 Characters and the Canon: The Growth of Undergraduate Creative Writing

Panelists: Laura van den Berg, Anne Valente, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Shane McCrae, Kirstin Valdez Quade

Description: As undergraduate creative writing programs become increasingly popular, many teachers of writing must learn and explore strategies specific to undergraduate instruction that may differ vastly from their graduate school experience. Five professors working exclusively with undergraduates will address conducting workshops, challenges specific to their students and, in turn, their teachers, as well as how to build, maintain, and identify the hallmarks of a dynamic undergraduate program.


Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Room 22, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  How Short Story Collections Are Born: Demystifying the Process of Publishing Your Debut Collection.

Panelists: Marian Crotty , David James Poissant, Manuel Gonzales, Rion Amilcar Scott, Amina Gautier

Description: From big houses to small presses, from contests to agented submissions, short story writers have several options for publishing first collections. The implications of these choices, however, are seldom clear until the process is complete. This panel will discuss the different paths by which four authors published debut collections, as well as the lessons they learned about editing, publishing, and promoting their books along the way.


Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Florida Salon 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Failure: The Taboo Element of Craft

Panelists: John McNally, Hannah Tinti, Valerie Laken, Eric Wilson, Sheree Greer

Description: If you think of failure as a necessary part of the creative process, you begin to see it as an essential element of craft, the gateway to writing the thing that does work. Eventually, the connection between writing that succeeds and writing that fails illuminates itself, and you use this to your advantage. The five writers on this panel will address the various ways that they view failure as an inevitable and therefore important part of the process, and how they’ve accommodated for it.


Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Understanding Novel Structure

Panelists: Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Lan Samantha Chang, Peter Ho Davies, Susanna Daniel, Bonnie Jo Campbell

Description: It can be a lodestar, a revelation, a voice in the wilderness, the solution to a riddle. From premise to final revision, structure is at the core of successful fiction. But where, for the author, does it come from? And how does one conceive of, execute, and/or repair a manuscript’s shape? Four writers—including the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, winners of the PEN/Hemingway and PEN/Bingham Awards, and a Man Booker long-listed novelist—discuss the ins and outs of structuring a novel.


Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Meeting Room 9 & 10, Marriott Waterside, Third Floor

Title: Women on the Verge: A Reading

Panelists: Rachel Khong, Alice Sola Kim, Katie Kitamura, Claire Vaye Watkins, R.O. Kwon

Description: lady Macbeth, Elena Greco, Miss Havisham—some of the most memorable woman characters in literature have been the angry ones. Nonetheless, writers are often criticized, or overlooked, for bringing to life so-called unrelatable, unlikable woman characters. What are the delights of writing angry women whom some readers might find to be off-putting? What could be potential risks and difficulties? Join five fiction writers as we read from and discuss passages featuring the women we’ve made.



Time: 9:00am – 10:15am

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  The Shadow of the Mouse: How Florida Fiction Can Escape Theme Park Culture

Panelists: Chris Eder, Regina Sakalarios-Rogers, Jeffrey Newberry, Patrick Ryan, Lynne Barrett

Description: When Americans think of Florida too often they think of theme parks or mobility scooters. Those who write in and about this region hope to be taken seriously when the place they write about isn’t. Five writers of literary fiction consider the inward and outward facing qualities of Florida literature. Specifically, how can fiction writers make Florida feel real when it’s so often associated with make believe? How can they humanize a cartoon state?


Time: 10:30 am – 11:45 am

Location: Ballroom D, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: Writing Bad Ass and Nasty Women.

Panelists: Luanne Smith, Pam Houston, Kim Addonizio, Ann Hood, Bonnie Jo Campbell

Description: We long for empowered women, especially in today’s political climate. Writing such women, though, is not about capturing Wonder Woman on the page. At times, kicking butt, breaking laws, hearts, and balls is necessary for the work, but at other times, the woman simply stands her ground and wants control over her own choices and body. The writers on this panel have given us bad ass women in their writing and sometimes been surprised by the reception. What is bad ass today? No cuffs required.


Time: 10:30 am – 11: 45 am

Location: florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Only Connect: Building Literary Community Beyond the MFA

Panelists: Julie Buntin, Saeed Jones, Ken Chen, Christine Texeira, Alison Murphy)

Description: Community is often touted as the best reason to get an MFA. But what happens when the program ends, or if an MFA isn’t right for you? Administrators from organizations changing the literary ecosystem discuss the opportunities for connection that exist in nonacademic settings. Topics include writing, publishing, and networking on- and offline; teaching and studying outside of academia; and how writers from every educational background can find and build their own sustaining, creative communities.


Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Ballroom C, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got

Panelists: Melissa Stein, Mark Doty, Chris Abani, Ada Limon, Hannah Tinti

Description: Bad advice: it’s all over the place. Five intrepid prose writers and poets dish up counterproductive counsel offered by teachers, by friends and family, by other writers, by naysayers and ambition-squashers and status-quo-preservers everywhere (sometimes even in our own heads). We’ll explore how we develop resilience and courage and confidence and voice as writers and, along the way, may just sneak in a wealth of eminently useful, real-world advice.


Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: grand Salon A, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home.

Panelists:Kelly McMasters, Amanda Petrusich, Catina Bacote, Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Leigh Newman

Description: As women coming of age in the modern era, moving out of our parents’ homes and into spaces of our own was exhilarating and terrifying. We looked to the past, to the homes our mothers and grandmothers defined for us, and we looked forward to something new we were going to create. In making homes for ourselves, we have defined ourselves—as partners, mothers, citizens. Readers are select contributors to This Is the Place: 30 Women Writing About Home (Seal Press, November 2017).


Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Meeting Room 1, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Writ Large: Expansion in the Short Story.

Panelists: Siân Griffiths, Eric Sasson, Caitlin Horrocks , Marie-Helene Bertino , Diane Cook

Description: William Strunk said, “Vigorous writing is concise.” Professors and craft books tend to agree, emphasizing the importance of cutting and concision. However, what’s good for the sentence is not always good for the story. Our panel suggests that sometimes a story benefits from more, not less. We examine ways to know if a story needs another dimension and in those instances, discuss strategies the writer might explore to help their stories find their best length.


Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Ballroom C, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: New Intimacies: A Reading and Conversation with Min Jin Lee and Sigrid Nunez. Sponsored by Kundiman

Panelists: Harold Augenbraum, Min Jin Lee, Sigrid Nunez

Description: Kundiman presents two novelists whose stories bring us into the fraught, shifting lives of family and friends, whose settings span continents and generations, and whose characters show the tenuous nature of identity in diaspora.


Time: 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Location: Ballroom D, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Monster Cultures

Panelists: Sofia Samatar, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, Nancy Hightower

Description: rom cyborgs to serial killers, monsters work the territory where explosive opposites meet: fear and desire, criminality and victimhood. On this panel, five writers of the fantastic discuss the roles of monsters in their work and areas of interest. How do monsters function in contemporary literature, in environmental writing, in Afrofuturism? What concerns and breakthroughs come with using the monstrous to express marginalized racial and sexual identities? How do we write the ultimate Other?


Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Ballroom A, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Write What You Know but Know It All: Research as Catalyst in Fiction

Panelists: Alexander Chee, Jennine Capó Crucet, Patricia Engel, Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, Xhenet Aliu

Description: One fiction writer constructs an imaginary world and turns to research—historical, scientific, vernacular—for verisimilitude. Another stumbles upon a historical event or character and uses imagination to give it life. Who did it right? Is there such a thing? A panel of novelists who’ve produced a diverse body of fiction, from the seemingly semi-autobiographical to the historical, discuss the ways in which research and imagination work in concert—or conflict—to build a fictional world.


Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Meeting Room 1, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Crafting the Weird: Techniques of Fabulist Female Fiction

Panelists: Clare Beams, Brenda Peynado, Jamey Bradbury, Celia Johnson, Ramona Ausubel

Description: Surreal, magical, or fabulist fiction has traditionally been employed to attack political systems through subversive means. Yet, women writers have adapted this genre for their own modes of critique. In this event, panelists will discuss how they use elements of the weird to address subjects such as the domestic, the female body, otherness, and LGBTQ identity. Presenters will provide examples, methods, and techniques for crafting subversive fiction that offers new methods of witnessing reality.


Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Room 13, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Writing Women’s Interior Lives

Panelists: Julia Phillips, Jessie Chaffee, Leigh Stein, Krys Lee, Mia Alvar

Description: Five years ago, Meg Wolitzer wrote in The New York Times of “that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated.” The five panelists here, all of whom recently published or will publish books emphasizing those very subjects, discuss their intentions, craft, and relegation (or not) to that lower shelf. What’s changed in the five years since Wolitzer’s essay was printed? What can we expect to change in the five years to come?


Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  The Suspense Is Killing Me!

Panelists: Michael Kardos, Kelly Magee, Phong Nguyen, Susan Perabo, Christopher Coake

Description: “Suspense” is too often dismissed as a genre, akin to thriller or mystery, when in fact it is an important element of all kinds of fiction, and often central to what makes a story or novel compelling to read. These five panelists will discuss the role of suspense in fiction (theirs and others’) and offer suggestions to generate suspense in a wide range of fiction. “Must-read” recommendations, helpful exercises, and a Q&A will round out the session.


We’ll see you all in Tampa! Remember to come by our booth to say hello.



Adopt a Short Story

These issues need forever homes!

April 2018 marks our 16th anniversary and the publication of 240 stories by 240 different authors. We hope you’ll join us in the celebration by taking one of our back issues under your wing.

From now until April 15, we’re seeking 240 different readers to adopt an issue and help ensure that One Story makes it to issue 300.

Adopting an issue is simple.

Give $25 or more at

When you do, we’ll assign you an issue and send you a copy in the mail right away. Each issue comes with an adoption certificate and undying gratitude from us here at One Story.

Donor 1 will receive our debut issue, “Villanova: Or How I Became a Former Professional Literary Agent” by John Hodgman, donor 27 will receive Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Transition to Glory,” and donor 59 will receive “The Great Divorce” by Kelly Link.

Give a short story a good home—adopt one today!

Issue #238: Josh Russell’s The King of the Animals

Around twelve years ago, I was visiting New Orleans and stopped in Faulkner House Books (a wonderful bookstore located on a street called Pirate’s Alley—who could resist?), and while I was browsing, it started to rain. I mean, really rain. Sheets and sheets of water falling straight down out of the sky, pummeling the Quarter. I’d just made a purchase when the deluge started, and I stuck around to see if I could wait out the storm. For about half an hour I talked with the store’s owner, Joe DeSalvo, and he did what good booksellers do: he recommended and sold me books. By the time the skies cleared, I walked out with, I think, five books under my arm. One of them was a novel called Yellow Jack by Josh Russell.

I started Yellow Jack on the plane ride back to New York and finished it soon after. (It’s a stunningly good novel—I highly recommend it.) Jump forward twelve years, and a short story comes my way called “The King of the Animals,” by none other than Josh Russell. One of the many great things about reading: I felt like I was bumping into an old acquaintance.

“The King of the Animals” is one of the funniest and strangest stories I’ve ever read. It’s set in the present day, in a world that looks an awful lot like ours, and while there might be a character in it who’s far more familiar than you’d ever want him to be, I promise you he doesn’t get any actual screen time. He sets a lot of terrible things in motion, but this story isn’t about him; it’s about love, family, survival, and, as the author says in our Q&A, innocence. If you aren’t familiar with Josh Russell’s writing, settle in for the weird and charming ride that he’s about to deliver. We at One Story are honored to put this new work of his into the hands of our readers.

Issue #237: Faint of Heart by Amanda Rea

At the beginning of our new issue, “Faint of Heart” by Amanda Rea, a young woman named Nora finds a child cowering, nearly naked, in a doghouse. Something horrific has happened, something unthinkable—but, as we soon find out, things could have been much worse.

The events that give this story its dark side have all occurred before the first sentence. What follows is a life lived in the wake of those events, and that life is Nora’s. Peripheral to a crime that’s now in the past, she carries on, works to pay the bills, searches for love, and settles into middle age. And then, one quiet afternoon, the past does what it does best: rears its head.

I was surprised when I first read “Faint of Heart” by the deft handling of the movement of time, and by the seemingly obvious and yet complicated layers of emotion that echo from a single event as years unfold. I was surprised even more to find out, in our Q&A, that this story was inspired by something Amanda Rea experienced firsthand. She’s a show-stoppingly good emerging writer, and we’re excited to be publishing her in One Story.

To hear Amanda Rea read from and discuss her story, please go here.

❤ Adina Talve-Goodman ❤

Dear Friends,

We are in mourning for our dear friend Adina Talve-Goodman, who passed away from cancer on Friday, January 12th.

Adina started working at One Story magazine as an intern in April 2010. After a brief break she returned, first as an assistant and later as One Story’s Managing Editor, beginning in March 2012. Whether you interacted with Adina through our editorial department, our writing classes, or at public events like the Literary Debutante Ball, you know that she was special. She had a way of disarming—and charming—everyone. She filled our office with laughter and music. She left our team in 2016, but she has never been far from our hearts.

Memorial contributions can be sent to The Adina Fund for Early Childhood Education at Central Reform Congregation, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, or Siteman Cancer Center. Adina was also a mentor at Girls Write Now.

In 2015, Adina won the Bellevue Literary Review’s Non-Fiction Prize with her marvelous essay, “I Must Have Been That Man.”  To read it is to hear her voice. We were so lucky to know her.

With love,

One Story

Announcing One Story’s 2018 Mentor of the Year: Alexander Chee

At One Story, we believe that being a part of the literary community should include helping others. In that vein, each year at our Literary Debutante Ball we honor one established author with a “Mentor of the Year” award for their extraordinary support of fellow writers. Past honorees have included Lan Samantha Chang, Ann PatchettDani Shapiro, Cornelius Eady, Toi Derricotte, and Jim Shepard.

Mentoring is the kind of work that happens behind the scenes but is vital to keep the literary world alive and kicking. It comes in all forms—from teaching, to blurbs, to recommendation letters, to late-night reads, agent advice, one-on-one conferences, career guidance, and inspiration. Behind each book on the shelf is an unseen mentor, giving an author the help they need to make their work better, to keep writing when they are ready to quit, and to give them a boost over the publishing wall.

Alexander Chee exemplifies this kind of gallant hard work, and we’ll be honoring him, along with our Literary Debutantes on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the One Story Literary Debutante Ball at Roulette in Brooklyn. Tickets will go on sale March 1st.

 Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, and the forthcoming essay collection, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared recently in The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, Tin House, and Best American Essays 2016, among others. He is as an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

Photo credit: M. Sharkey

Issue #236: Guerrilla Marketing by Sanjay Agnihotri

Our last issue of 2017 comes from one of our debut authors, discovered by contributing editor Will Allison, so I’m turning the helm over to Will to introduce you to “Guerrilla Marketing.” Make it so, Will! –PR

Representations of South Asians in American culture have come a long way since Apu, the Kwik-E-Mart clerk on The Simpsons, first manned the cash register in 1990. Back then, there were few Indians in American fiction, film, or TV; they were usually relegated to supporting roles; and they tended to be convenience store workers, taxi drivers, or doctors. Today, however, actors of Indian descent—from Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra to Aziz Ansari and Dev Patel—can be seen in a range of prominent, non-stereotypical, starring roles, and fiction writers such as Akhil Sharma, Kiran Desai, and Jhumpa Lahiri have reached a broad audience with their books.

Even so, I’d never encountered an Indian character quite like Vikram, the protagonist of Sanjay Agnihotri’s first published story, “Guerrilla Marketing.” Vikram is a 57-year-old former accountant from Baroda, India, who is struggling to survive as an immigrant worker in Parsippany, New Jersey. In American culture, the sort of suffering and exploitation Vikram endures is perhaps more commonly associated with undocumented workers from Mexico and South America—but in the case of Vikram and his peers, the exploitation comes not at the hands of white Americans but from other Indian immigrants who are higher up the food chain.

As Agnihotri acknowledges in his author interview, it’s a troubling story that risks sentimentality. Luckily for us readers, Agnihotri resisted the temptation to portray Vikram as a noble, suffering immigrant. Instead, Vikram is more of a sad sack, a guy with his own raft of bad habits, delusions, prejudices, misguided ambitions, and conflicting desires. In other words, he’s a real person on the page. We are excited to present another One Story debut, and we hope you find Vikram and his story as unforgettable as we did.

OTS 53: Our New Lives by Helen Coats

When I first read Helen Coats’s “Our New Lives,” I recognized a version of myself twice over. The first recognition came because the young man in the story, Jeremy, has suffered the loss of a friend and doesn’t know how to grieve because he feels partly responsible for his friend’s demise. I experienced something similar when I was sixteen. Jeremy’s guilt is ill founded (as was mine), but he doesn’t have the means to grasp that, and he doesn’t reach out to anyone for help. He just stews and suffers. To paraphrase the author in our Q&A, his guilt actually gets in the way of his grieving. The manner in which this is handled in the story is impressive—all the more so because we’re seeing Jeremy through his sister’s eyes.

The second sense of recognition I had was in the depiction of Jeremy and Heather—younger brother and older sister. Heather wants very much to be there for Jeremy, but life (high school graduation, college) is pulling her away. The relationship they had when they were younger has to change in order to survive. That’s a perfectly normal thing, but knowing it doesn’t make it any easier. When my sister graduated from high school and left home for college, I felt one of my first pangs of looming adulthood. I felt like we were both becoming grownups—her because she was on the brink of being one, and me because, as the youngest, I was about to be the only kid left standing, so to speak, and who wants to be that? Time to grow up. It was no picnic for either one of us, suddenly being apart, but we did what people do: we evolved, and we found our new, adult relationship.

Jeremy and Heather are at the very early and painful stages of finding their new relationship in this story, and Helen Coats has written beautifully about it. I hope you enjoy “Our New Lives.” I think it’s a story that will resonate with many readers, and one that bespeaks a wonderful writing life for Helen.