Aura Estrada Short Story Contest (2021)

Aura Estrada Short Story Contest

Name: Aura Estrada Short Story Contest
Category: Short story
Word count: submission should not exceed 5000 words
Entry fee: Free for contestants outside USA, Canada and Western Europe. $20 for others
Prize: $1000, and publication
Closing date: May 31, 2021 (free global/hardship entries); June 30, 2021 (paid entries)

Boston Review is pleased to adopt a contest model shaped by social justice and accessibility concerns.

  • Contestants from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe pay an entry fee of $20, which helps subsidize the entry of contestants from outside of those countries, as well as those claiming hardship, all of whom pay nothing to enter our contests. Free entries and paid entries are read in the same way and given equal weight.
  • In addition, while a winner will be chosen in each genre, many more runners-up will have their work published, increasing the likelihood that entrants will have their work shared with Boston Review’s audience.
  • Finally, Boston Review commits to publishing an annual themed literary issue, and the contests share the issue’s theme. This offers contestants more transparency about what Boston Review’s editors are seeking in any given year. All contestants will receive a free copy of the issue, either in print (for paid entries) or digital (for unpaid entries).

This year’s theme is on “Repair”

We bear deep wounds—individually and collectively, for generations, for a lifetime, for a year, for a day. All have been worsened by a destructive period of pyrrhic politics that left us ill-equipped to respond to a global health catastrophe. As we struggle as a society to recover our footing and grieve our dead, Arts in Society believes that the literary arts must have a voice in the conversation about how we heal.

Tell us what it means to repair from a terrible rupture, a life-threatening harm or illness. How do we return to health, to wholeness? Is “return” even the right idea? We want to know if you think repair is possible from toxic politics, from pandemic, from racist horrors, from class warfare, from Islamophobia, from gendered violence and “reparative” therapy, from ecological brinksmanship.

Consider the meditations of Adrienne Rich:
these scars bear witness
but whether to repair
or to destruction
I no longer know
—Adrienne Rich, “Meditations for a Savage Child”

Or the words of Cameron Awkward-Rich:
Sometimes you don’t die
when you’re supposed to
& now I have a choice
repair a world or build
a new one inside my body
—Cameron Awkward-Rich, “Cento Between the Ending and the End”

Reflect on the Japanese art of 金継ぎ (kintsugi), where the repair is highlighted by a seam of gold.

We are thinking about the timeliness of Toni Morrison writing that wishes for a “return to normal” are distractions from righteous demands for something more revolutionary, more catalytic: “They fill their mind and hands with soap and repair . . . because what is waiting for them, in a suddenly idle moment, is the seep of rage. Molten. Thick and slow-moving. Mindful and particular about what in its path it chooses to bury. Or else, into a beat of time, and sideways under their breasts, slips a sorrow they don’t know where from.”

Or, as Haruki Murakami writes, “I don’t want to be ‘repaired’.”

But because we believe in the power of art, we are also thinking of when Jonathan Saffron Foer, in Everything Is Illuminated, says, “I can repair my mistakes when I perform mistakes. . . . With writing, we have second chances.”

Or when Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says: “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

Tell us where we go from here. Tell us how we get out of this mess.

Submission guidelines:

  • All entries must be related to this year’s theme of Repair. The theme should be very broadly interpreted. Judges shouldn’t have to guess at the connection between the theme and your entry.
  • The winning author will receive $1,000 and have their work published in Boston Review‘s special literary issue Repair (March 2022). Some finalists and semi-finalists will also be published in the issue or online.
  • Stories must not exceed 5,000 words and must be unpublished.
  • “Unpublished” means it has never received print publication of any kind, nor is it available anywhere on the Internet. If a story is not available for Boston Review to publish as a first serial, it is not eligible to win the competition or be named as a finalist or semi-finalist.
  • Do not include a cover note. Your name should not appear anywhere in the uploaded file. All entries must be in English; translations are acceptable if they are done in collaboration with the author and the story is unpublished in any language.
  • Simultaneous submissions are OK but if your story is accepted elsewhere, you must immediately withdraw it via Submittable.
  • Submissions may not be modified after entry. The contest judge and Boston Review staff, however, reserve the right to recommend edits to the winning story as well as finalists and semi-finalists they are interested in publishing.
  • Contest entrants cannot have a close personal or professional relationship with this year’s judge or with any editors, staff, or contest screeners at Boston Review
  • Make sure your address (mailing and email) in Submittable is correct, as this is the address where your free copy of Repair will be sent in early 2022.

To submit your short story for this contest, visit Submittable

Read winning stories from past years:
Sabrina Helen Li’s Mother, Grow My Baby (Fall 2019)
Neshat Khan’s The Neighbors (Spring 2019)
Herselman Hattingh’s The Recorder (2018)
Gina Balibrera’s Álvaro (2017)
Mikayla Ávila Vilá’s Trumpeteers (2016)
Barbara Hamby’s Dole Girl (2015)
Leslee Becker’s Severance (2014)
Kerry-Lee Powell’s There Are Two Pools You May Drink From (2013)
Alexandra Thom’s The Piano (2012)
Kalpana Narayanan’s Aviator on the Prowl (2011)
Adam Sturtevant’s How Do I explain? (2010)
Jessica Treglia’s Canceled (2009)
Patricia Engel’s Desaliento (2008)
Padma Viswanathan’s Transitory Cities (2007)
Tiphanie Yanique’s How to Escape from a Leper Colony (2006)
Lisa Chipongian’s Intramuros (2005)
D.S. Sulaitis’s If It’s Anywhere, It’s Behind Us (2004)
Gale Renee Walden’s Men I Don’t Talk to Anymore (2003)
Manini Nayar’s Home Fires (2002)
Kate Small’s One Night a Year (2001)
Girija Tropp’s The Pretty Ones Have Their Uses (2001)
Pauls Toutonghi’s Regeneration (2000)
Jacob M. Appel’s Shell Game with Organs (1999)
Kris Saknussemm’s Unpracticed Fingers Bungle Sadly Over Tiny Feathered Bodies (1998)
Kiki Delancey’s Jules Jr Michael Jules Jr (1997)
Mary Ann Jannazo’s No Runs, No Hits, No One Left on Base (1996)
Tom Paine’s The Milkman & I (1995)
Michael Dorris’s Layaway (1994)


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