Short Story Contest

On life, loss and new beginnings

Short Story Contest authors unleash their creativity to uncover truths in worlds both strange and familiar

In a stroke of serendipity, the first-place winners of this year's Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest all tackled one of life's most inevitable human experiences: loss. From the death of a family member to the perplexity of dearly loved items gone missing, the authors explore the ripple effects of sudden absence — the choices that people must make, the emotional hurdles they confront, the relationships they turn to as they try to move forward.

Other themes emerged in the works chosen by the contest's esteemed panel of judges, themselves celebrated authors, for second and third place. Writers imagined stories of revenge, unexpected kinship, true friendship and freedom. They sketched out detailed worlds: In one, relentless machine beings stamp out the remnants of human expression; in another, a high-powered San Francisco stock broker navigates the world he created for himself. One story — set in a school that could be in Anytown, USA — eerily mirrors recent news headlines. But no matter the stories' settings, the authors have skillfully guided their characters past fear and ultimately toward love, truth and courage.

The Palo Alto Weekly would like to thank the talented writers who submitted work to the contest, now in its 32nd year; the readers, Danielle Truppi and Sharon Levin, who selected the top entries in each category for the judges to consider; the judges for the Adult and Young Adult categories, Debbie Duncan, Nancy Packer and Tom Parker; and the Teen category judges, Nancy Etchemendy, Marjorie Sayer and Caryn Huberman Yacowitz. The Weekly also would like to thank the contest co-sponsors, Bell's Books of Palo Alto, Kepler's Books of Menlo Park and Linden Tree Books of Los Altos.



Adult Winners

First Place

Patricia Fewer
Worm Farm

Second Place
Craig Evans
Chutes and Ladders

Third Place
Shanna May Bengston
Leopard Swing Coat

Youth Winners

Teen 12-14

First Place

Jerry Xia
New Houses

Second Place
Tina Zeng
The Last Act

Third Place
Asha Kulkarni
A Funeral for a Butterfly

Young Adult 15-17

First Place

Christina O'Konski
The Queen of Lost Things

Second Place
The Hands and The Mouth

Third Place
Benjamin Stein
Just Another Monday

Short Story Contest judges



Kepler's Books and Magazines, Palo Alto Linden Tree, Palo AltoBell's Books, Palo Alto


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