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G&A: The Contest Blog

Fiction will mingle with film at the newly launched Oaxaca International Independent Film and Video Festival, which is offering writers a place in the competitive forum enjoyed by participating filmmakers. Writers can submit stories this summer, and the festival committee will select two winners—one writing in English, one in Spanish—to present their works at the festival, held from November 8 to 11 in the Mexican city of Oaxaca de Juárez (travel expenses are part of the award).

Each winner will receive a prize of fifteen hundred dollars, and the winning works also will be published in a commemorative book along with the stories of eight runners up—four in English, four in Spanish. An announcement of the honorees will be made on September 16.

The festival is limiting submissions to one thousand entries, and will accept stories via e-mail until July 31. An entry fee of ten dollars is required for stories submitted by June 10, and fifteen dollars thereafter. Complete guidelines and more information about the main event are available on the festival Web site.

On Friday, One Story journal founders Maribeth Batcha and Hannah Tinti playfully introduced into literary society nine writers whose first stories were published in the journal's pages. "Debutantes" Sam Allingham, Ramona Ausubel, Nell Casey, Amelia Kahaney, Cheston Knapp, Grant Munroe, Patrick Somerville, Cote Smith, and Arlaina Tibensky were escorted by some of literary fiction's biggest names before a crowd of readers, agents, editors, and fellow writers attending the journal's first Literary Debutante Ball. Jonathan Lethem, Michael Cunningham, Deb Olin Unferth, and Tinti herself were among the escorts, each of whom had played a mentoring role in the emerging writers' lives. 

Dan Chaon escorted Philadelphia writer Sam Allingham, whose fiction has appeared in One Story and An Other Magazine.

Michelle Latiolais and Ron Carlson escorted Ramona Ausubel, a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California in Irvine whose stories have appeared in journals including Slice, pax americana, and Green Mountains Review. The day before the event, she sold her story collection and her novel to Riverhead Books.

Tamara Jenkins escorted Nell Casey, the editor of Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression and An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family, who is currently working on The Journals of Spalding Gray (forthcoming from Knopf in 2011).

Michael Cunningham escorted Amelia Kahaney, a writing teacher at Brooklyn College who also does some ghostwriting, and whose One Story story, "Fire Season," has been optioned for film.

Jim Shepard and Karen Shepard escorted Portland, Oregon, writer Cheston Knapp, who is also the managing editor of Tin House and director of the journal's Summer Writers Workshop.

Jonathan Lethem escorted Brooklyn story writer Grant Munroe, who has also written humor and essays for The Rumpus and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

Hannah Tinti escorted Chicago author Patrick Somerville, author of the short story collection Trouble (Vintage, 2006) and the novel The Cradle (Little, Brown, 2009).

Deb Olin Unferth escorted Kansas writer Cote Smith, a recent graduate of University of Kansas's MFA program.

Victor LaValle escorted Arlaina Tibensky, the founder of the Pen Parentis literary salon in Manhattan whose young adult novel about a girl obsessed with Sylvia Plath is forthcoming in 2011 from Simon & Schuster's Pulse imprint.

In the video below, the debutantes make their way into the arena, a space in the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn (home of the One Story offices), as comedian and writer John Hodgman makes introductions. 

Last night Melville House celebrated its first Moby Awards, given by the New York City indie press for video book trailers —the low-budget, the beautiful, and the cringe-worthy all represented—made in the past twelve months. Top trailers in five categories earned a golden whale and perhaps a nudge on YouTube—in the book world, sometimes even promotion could use a little promotion. Small press poetry got a nod from the judges, with the award for Best Low Budget or Indie Book Trailer going to the understated, animated short for Kathryn Regina's poetry chapbook, I Am in the Air Right Now, published in a limited edition—now sold out— by Greying Ghost Press.

The winners in the other predetermined categories, with a few honorable add-ons, are:
Best Big Budget or Big House Book Trailer: The stunning stop-motion video—books transform before your eyes—for Going West by Maurice Gee, released by Faber and Faber in 1992

Best Cameo in a Book Trailer: Zach Galifinakis (the Brooklyn actor and comedian of Hangover fame) in the video for John Wray's novel Lowboy, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2009

Best Performance by an Author: Dennis Cass in the trailer for his memoir Head Case (HarperCollins, 2007)

Least Likely Trailer to Sell the Book: Sounds of Murder (Cozy Cat Press, 2010) by Patricia Rockwell

Bloodiest Book Trailer: Killer by Dave Zeltserman (Serpent's Tail, 2010)

Best Foreign Film Book Trailer: Etcetera and Otherwise: A Lurid Odyssey, by Canadian author Sean Stanley, illustrated by Kristi-Ly Green (Tightrope Books, 2008)

Most Annoying Music: New Year's At the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland (Dial, 2009)

Biggest Waste of Conglomerate Money: Level 26, billed as "the world's first digi-novel," by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation writer Anthony Zuiker (Dutton, 2009)

While there were no rules for book publication dates, the videos had to have been produced between April 2009 and April 2010.

Below is the trailer for Regina's chapbook.

The late novelist J. G. Farrell was honored on Wednesday with the Lost Man Booker Prize, awarded for Troubles (Phoenix), which was published during a period in 1970 when changes in the prestigious prize's publication date guidelines rendered many books ineligible for entry. The prize, given just this once to recognize a book released during that time, is the second Booker for a work by Farrell, who won the 1973 award for the second novel in a trilogy that began with Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Farrell died in 1979 in Ireland's Bantry Bay.

The winning book was selected by public vote by a majority— 38 percent—from a shortlist that included The Birds on The Trees (Virago Press) by Nina Bawden, The Bay of Noon (Virago Press) by Shirley Hazzard, Fire From Heaven (Arrow Books) by Mary Renault, The Driver's Seat (Penguin Classics) by Muriel Spark, The Vivisector (Vintage) by Nobel Prize–winner Patrick White. The semifinalists were determined by poet Tobias Hill, broadcaster Katie Derham, and journalist Rachel Cooke.

Troubles, which has not been out-of-print since its publication, was most recently published in a U.S. edition by New York Review Books Classics in 2002.

The winners of this year's New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Australia's thirty-one-year-old prize series, include two debut novelists, a decorated fiction writer, and an established poet attempting to fill a void in the library of her country.

Jordie Albiston, author of six books of poetry, won the thirty-thousand-dollar Kenneth Slessor Prize for poetry for her collection of sonnets, the sonnet according to 'm' (John Leonard Press), written as a response to a dearth of Australian poetry written in the form.  

''I was interested in applying the form to Australian language in particular," Albiston told the Australian newspaper the Age. "I wanted to contribute to the genre as an Australian.''

In fiction, two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee won the forty-thousand-dollar Christina Stead Prize for his novel Summertime (Harvill Secker). Andrew Croome received the UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) Glenda Adams Award for first fiction for his novel set during the Cold War, Document Z (Allen & Unwin), and Cate Kennedy, author of the short story collection Dark Roots (Grove Press, 2008), won the People's Choice Award for her first novel, The World Beneath (Scribe).

Memoirist Abbas El-Zein won the fifteen-thousand-dollar Community Relations Commission Award for Leave to Remain (University of Queensland Press), his story of individuals and families affected by war. Screenwriter Jane Campion received honors as well for Bright Star, her 2009 film about Romantic poet John Keats.

In the video below, debut author Croome talks about his experience writing his first novel.

We recently asked the folks at Glimmer Train Stories, who hold twelve fiction contests a year, to let us know what they look for in a story submission. Here's what the editors—Portland, Oregon, sisters Linda Swanson-Davies and Susan Burmeister-Brown, who have also edited the essay anthologies Where Love Is Found and Mother Knows (both out from Simon & Schuster)—had to say about the kind of "well-crafted stories of substance" they hope to publish.

"Because Glimmer Train Stories is a print publication, and those seem to be becoming more scarce, it is important to us that the stories we publish capture some aspect of being human that will feel as meaningful in fifty years as it does now.

"From the beginning, Glimmer Train has welcomed the work of new writers, partly because publication opportunities are particularly rare for them, but also because it is really exciting to find, fall in love with, and publish great stories by new voices. It is one of the most fun things we do."

At the moment, entries are open for the Short Story Award for New Writers, which will award twelve hundred dollars and publication to a writer who has not published fiction in a journal with a circulation over five thousand. Next month Glimmer Train will accept submissions to its Fiction Open competition of stories ranging from two thousand to twenty thousand words. Contest guidelines and a glimpse of the magazine are available on the Glimmer Train Press Web site.

Mary Robison, author of four short story collections, has been named the latest winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story, given to recognize significant work the form. The prize, which was last awarded in 2008 to Amy Hempel, is typically given annually and carries an award of thirty
thousand dollars.

A native of Washington, D.C., who now teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Robison was commended by judges Andrea Barrett, Hempel, and Jayne Anne Phillips for her stories' "lean, cool ferocity and their wry takes on people in pivotal moments." Her story collections are Days (Knopf, 1979), An Amateur’s Guide to the Night (Random House, 1983), Believe Them (Knopf, 1988), and Tell Me: Thirty Stories (Counterpoint, 2002), and Robison has also published five novels including Oh! (Knopf, 1981), Why Did I Ever (Counterpoint, 2001), and One D.O.A., One on the Way (Counterpoint, 2009).  

Previous winners of the Rea Award, founded in 1986 by writer and "passionate reader" Michael Rea, include Cynthia Ozick, Tobias Wolff, Eudora Welty, Andre Dubus, and Antonya Nelson.

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