The Dappled Things editorial board is delighted to announce the following winners of the 2019 J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction, honoring short stories that explore the lives of characters with “one foot in this world and one in the next”:
First Place: “Waiting for Camacho” by Angela Lorang. The immediacy of the narration, the believability of Camacho’s voice, and the elevated stakes of the action all contribute to make this piece outstanding. It is an unexpected conversion story: Camacho has seen and done terrible things and yet wants to make a radical change to the good. Due to Lorang’s deft handling of the prose’s revelations as well as of revealed truth, the story isn’t weighted down by its grave themes but instead achieves a remarkable range of effects: compassion, humor, grief over sin and pain, and authentic hope for redemption.
Second Place: “El Niño” by Angelica Esquivel. In exploring folk belief tangential to Catholicism and the ways in which it can weave in and out of and overlap with lived faith, the patiently crafted lines of this evocative and marvelously strange story build up to an unexpected shift in tone and a richly earned epiphany.
Honorable Mention: “Devotions” by Elaine Kehoe. The prose framing this window into the lives of a Jewish wife and Catholic husband, who grapple together with his changing sense of what his faith demands and what it might mean to be called by God, delivers its emotional effect through a blending of exquisite detail and straightforward reportage.