2024 Kenneth Patchen Award shortlist and winner announced!

2024 Kenneth Patchen Award shortlist and winner announced!
And now... the winner and short list for the 2024 Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel!
The shortlisted entries were
Tom Bradley -- No Baudelaires in Bablyton
Alan Gilbert -- Wipe
Antonio David Puerschel -- Plastic Flowers
Larry Greer -- Our Friend Charley
Richard R. Suave -- Inside
Benjamin Shane Evans -- Revelations of Man, or the Beam in the Left Eye
and the winner!
                                                                                                                              Kim Merrill -- Red Girl Jumping

2024 Kenneth Patchen Award Encomium by Carla Wilson, author of Curious Impossibilities: Ten Cinematic Riffs and Impossible Conversations: Imaginary Interviews with World-Famous Artists

RED GIRL JUMPING subtitled as “an experimental memoir” stayed with me long after the first reading: I was mesmerized by the surreal beauty of the prose, yet felt punched in the gut, holding my breath the entire time wondering about the protagonist’s fate. The narrative held my attention in a dream-like state of suspense from the first sentence, with its steady pace, ethereal tone and wordplay throughout. Despite the difficult theme, I was willingly drawn into the story, almost as if floating along between different veins of awareness and multiple storylines, infinitely hoping for answers. The novel takes the reader on a road trip of the narrator’s mind at various stages of life, between memories of separate places and times, interwoven in layers with multiple personas of different ages and mental states. The author constructs a dream-like setting in which trauma surfaces and retreats, is remembered and “un-remembered,” leaving the reader to grapple with how this kind of thing could possibly happen, and how could someone possibly survive this? We are intrigued/repulsed, saddened, angry, yet remain
hopeful given the belief in or hope for some kind of “magic” that the protagonist
intermittently taps into despite the trauma that was repeatedly endured into adulthood. This stood out among the seven shortlisted submissions as the worthiest of the 2024 Kenneth Patchen Award for its innovative and complex approach to writing and its convincing depiction of an innocent person’s state of mind and the sheer power trauma can have on the psyche, even as human resiliency (somehow) prevails. As uncomfortable as it was at times to read--fiction or not--I felt this story was the one that needed to be published. [ I would read it multiple times just for the sheer pleasure of entering this floating world of surreal memory and masterful prose. ] -- CW


We were impressed by the number of excellent submissions this year. I wish we could publish more than the winner, but budgetary and time constraints make that an impossibility for now.

Thanks to all the fine authors who submitted their work to the contest. I wish you success with your manuscripts. If enough people begin to recognize that the big five presses have no interest in literary fiction unless it touches on their pet social issues, then perhaps they may begin to seek out better work from small, independent presses like JEF Books, Black Scat Books, Orbis Tertius, Post-Asemic Press, Invisible Starfall Books, and many other fine small presses. If you want bland vanilla fiction, go to the big five, but if you want work that is significant for the originality of vision and voice that innovative authors give to the world, dig deeper. The rewards will be richer. If you are interested in our books, a good place to begin might be the forthcoming publication of the 2023 Patchen Award winner, Out of Competition by Lew Collins.
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