We’d like to thank everyone who submitted for our “Race in Place” theme. We received many thoughtful and well-written stories that represent a variety of voices across the South. After much reading and discussion, we chose three winners. We also chose an honorable mention story that we felt needed to be included.
Below are the winning stories and a bit about their inspiration and authors. The top three winners will have the chance to receive feedback and mentorship from our “Race in Place” author participants, including Kimberly Brock, Kalisha Buckhanon, M.J. Pullen, J. Drew Lanham, Emily Carpenter and Piper Huguley.
We feel these winners are some of the important voices writing about the South today, and we look forward to following and helping to develop their future careers.
Kait Austin is a Creole fiction writer living in New Orleans. We published her thought-provoking short story, White, last year. She says her winning story, which takes place on a university campus, addresses the concept of white feminism and black/queer identity set in the South. We loved her fresh take on feminism and her use of humor throughout the story.
Samuel K. Wilkes is a writer, attorney and musician living in Fairhope, Alabama. His story is set in Birmingham, where he lived for many years, and explores how race, economic class and preconceived notions all intertwine to affect decisions. We were impressed with his plot and character development, in addition to his ability to go beyond black and white stereotypes with this story. Read his previous story, A Fried Memory, in Deep South.
Ferdinand Hunter lives in Chandler, Arizona, but spent the first 22 years of his life in Georgia. He received his BA in African-American and African Studies from Emory University. His piece of nonfiction begins with the statement “Jesus Christ haunts me” and goes on to explain how Jesus Christ is inextricably bound to African-American culture. We appreciate Hunter’s depth of research for this piece.
A Seminole Indian kidnaps a slave? We just couldn’t resist including Paul Iasevoli’s wild ride of a story based on historical fact. His uncle/godfather was the illegitimate child of an African American-Seminole woman and the son of an English-Bahamian slave trader. Iasevoli grew up listening to his stories about life in early twentieth-century Florida. His own iteration tells the tale of Ishmael, a 13-year-old slave captured by Seminoles in 1861 Florida. On his journey from the West Coast into the depths of the Everglades, Ishmael discovers his purpose in life—to live as a Seminole prince after his marriage to the chieftain’s daughter.