Jan/Feb 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 1 2020 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest |

Short Fiction Contest Introduction

Before the beginning of the pandemic that has upended all of us, I had a working theory about what makes good fiction. I presented it to my students at the start of each semester, expounding the words again and again in class, and then once again during office hours or as many times as it took for it to become meaningful for them in their practice of writing. I told them, really good fiction, the kind that we come back to repeatedly, shows us the world we embody and then nudges us toward what that world can grow into. This transcends genre; it is true whether you’re trucking in realism or speculative fiction. The nudge, I emphasized, does not necessarily require change to manifest on the page, either within a character or within the circumstances of the situation in which she finds herself. The world to grow into might include an act of kindness where a daughter stays up with her grieving mother who believes her dead son has come home; it might present itself as a granddaughter’

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Photo of Misha Rai
Misha Rai is the 2018-2020 Kenyon Review Fellow in Prose. Her novel-in-progress, Blood We Did Not Spill, has been awarded a 2018 MacDowell Colony Fellowship, the Dana Award in the novel category, and the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies. She has also been a 2016-2017 Edward H. and Mary C. Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State University and the recipient of the 2015 George M. Harper Award. Her prose has appeared in a number of journals. She was born in Sonipat, Haryana, and brought up in India.

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