2011 Wabash Prize for Fiction Results!

BY ANTHONY COOK, Editor-in-Chief

Sills-278x300After careful consideration, guest judge Antonya Nelson has selected Joe B. Sills’ story, “The Duck,” as the winner of Sycamore Review’s 2011 Wabash Prize for Fiction. “The Duck” is at once deceptively simple and incredibly ambitious–its central character is a young Anton Chekhov. Ms. Nelson said of ”The Duck”: ”This story stands out for being both entirely original, and entirely paying homage to the father of short story writers, Anton Chekhov. It looks backward, it looks forward. It is spare, clever, elusive, and utterly satisfying.”

We’d also like to recognize the contest’s two runners-up. Ms. Nelson selected Tom Noyes’ story, “Per League Rules,” as first runner-up. It’s the story of a father and softball coach struggling to maintain a relationship with his daughter. Ms. Nelson said: “‘Per League Rules’ features a protagonist whose self-knowledge is profound but whose articulations and actions are limited. The reader is thereby invited into his fierce battle with himself.”

The second runner-up was Naomi Williams’ story, “Items for Exchange,” which revolves around the La Pérouse expedition of the 18th century. Ms. Nelson said of this story: “‘Items for Exchange’ brings to life a time and ambition so convincingly as to suggest a near-novel in its brief pages.”

Congratulations to all three of our writers selected by this year’s discerning judge. You can check out all three of these fantastic stories in Issue 23.2, due out in July. The issue will also include poetry from Jeff Skinner, Julia Story, and Lizzie Hutton, plus interviews with T.C. Boyle, Bob Hicok, Jean Valentine, and much more. Thank you to all who submitted to the contest. As in previous years, we received many excellent submissions, and our editorial staff has continued to enjoy seeing the work of so many talented artists. We also hope you’ll consider submitting your work to the 2011 Wabash Prize for Poetrynext fall. We are honored to have Louise Glück as our guest judge. The deadline is September 15, 2011.

Complete 2011 Wabash Prize for Fiction Results


Joseph Sills, “The Duck”
Joe B. Sills is a medical student at Tufts University. He holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where he was a Poe/Faulkner Fellow. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, and Zoetrope, in which he was the winner of the 2010 Short Fiction Contest.

First Runner Up

Tom Noyes, “Per League Rules”
Tom Noyes is the author of two story collections, Behold Faith and Other Stories (Dufour 2003) and Spooky Action at a Distance and Other Stories (Dufour 2008). His stories have appeared or are slated to appear in such journals as American Literary Review, Ascent, Colorado Review, Image,Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, and Third Coast. He teaches in the BFA program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, where he also serves as a consulting editor for the literary magazine Lake Effect.

Second Runner Up

Naomi J. Williams, “Items for Exchange”
Naomi J. Williams’ story “Items for Exchange” is part of a collection of linked stories about the La Pérouse expedition. Other stories from the collection have appeared in Ninth Letter, One Story, A Public Space, and American Short Fiction. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize and an MA in Creative Writing from UC Davis, she lives and works in northern California.


Cary Groner, of El Sobrante, CA, “Flatwater” (also to be published in Issue 23.2-Summer/Fall 2011)
D.J. Thielke, of Houston, TX, “Ricky Danasi”
Jose Skinner, of Edinburg, TX, “The Sand Car”
Elise Atchison, of Livingston, MT, “Original Inhabitants”