McAuliffe wins award for short fiction

Publication Date

Shena McAuliffe, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Assistant Professor of English, has been named winner of the 2022 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction for her story collection, “We Are a Teeming Wilderness.”

Press 53 is an independent publisher located in Winston-Salem, N.C., known for championing the work of short story writers and poets, who face challenges in the publishing industry. Its competition drew more than 300 entries from writers in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

McAuliffe’s story collection is “the rare book that belongs both on the high shelf of the connoisseur and at the top of the stack on anyone's bedside table,” said editor Claire V. Foxx, who judged the award.

“These stories imagine the past with a keen awareness of the present, and vice versa. The result is a collection of characters—from microorganisms to hosiery salesmen to clairvoyants—who are bizarre, familiar, pathological, comic, sympathetic, foolish, and wise, sometimes all at once.”

Upon publication, set for May 2023, McAuliffe will receive a $1,000 advance and 50 copies of her book.

“My collection will include 15 stories that I wrote between 2007 and 2021, so having them published together as a book after years of steady work is particularly satisfying for me,” McAuliffe said.

“Short stories were my first love as a writer because the genre invites experimentation and playfulness in form and voice, and because, as a reader, they so often knock me over emotionally in just a few pages.”

Although she has been working more often on novels and lyric essays in recent years, one of McAuliffe’s favorite classes to teach is the 200-level fiction workshop, in which students read and write short stories, “and this course has contributed to my ongoing love of short fiction.”

McAuliffe joined Union in 2018. She holds a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the university of Utah and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

She is the author of “The Good Echo: A Novel” (Black Lawrence Press 2018) and “Glass, Light, Electricity” (University of Alaska Press, 2020). One of the essays in “Glass, Light, Electricity,” titled “Marceline Wanted a Bigger Adventure," was awarded a prestigious Pushcart Prize.

McAuliffe’s short stories and essays also have been published in “Conjunctions,” “Black Warrior Review,” “The Collagist,” “Alaska Quarterly Review,” “Copper Nickel” and other publications.