Deadline Approaches for Nelson Algren Short Story Award

The Chicago Tribune is currently accepting submissions for its annual Nelson Algren Short Story Award. One winner will receive $3,500 and publication in Printers Row Journal, the Tribune’s weekly literary supplement. Three finalists will receive awards of $1,000 each, and four runners-up will receive $500 each. The deadline is February 1.

United States residents ages eighteen and over are eligible to enter. Using the online submissions system, fiction writers may submit a previously unpublished story, written in English, of up to eight thousand words. There is no entry fee. Winners will be selected by a panel of established fiction writers and announced during the annual Printers Row Lit Fest, which will be held this year on June 8 and 9 in Chicago. 

Given annually for over twenty years, the Nelson Algren Award is named for the iconic Chicago writer best known for his novel The Man With the Golden Arm, which received the inaugural National Book Award in 1949. “Fiction helps us make sense of a world in which horrible things happen,” writes Tribune Literary Editor Elizabeth Taylor on the newspaper’s website. “This is a world that all but defies imagination, where lovers and friends, criminals and victims, enemies and allies, traitors and confidantes engage with each other on the page, and elevate the everyday of life into art. In the Nelson Algren contest, we try to create a perfect world, in which all stories are treated equally.” The contest, which is judged blindly, has published early work from authors such as Louise Erdrich and Julia Glass. Past judges have included late authors George Plimpton, Studs Terkel, and Eudora Welty.  

The winner of the 2012 prize was Jeremy T. Wilson of Chicago for his story “Everything is Going to Be Okay.” For complete eligibility requirements and guidelines for the 2013 contest, visit the Nelson Algren Award rules page.