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The Story/Essay Shortlist for the 2019 Chicago Review of Books Award

The Story/Essay Shortlist for the 2019 Chicago Review of Books Award

For the second year in a row, the Chicago Review of Books Award for Story or Essay (in partnership with Story Studio) will recognize the best stand-alone story or essay published by a Chicago-based writer between August 2018 and August 2019.

Below are this year’s four finalists, along with this year’s judges. Congrats to last year’s winner, Sarah Conway.

Earlier this week we announced the shortlists for poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Tomorrow we’ll announce the recipient of a new award called the Adam Morgan Literary Citizen Award. It’s named for our founding editor and given to a tireless advocate of Chicago literature.

The winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony on December 6th at Ravenswood Events Center in Chicago. Tickets are on sale now! Choose from a “Golden Ticket” VIP Option, or General Admission. All funds raised will help support The Story Matters Foundation and the Chicago Review of Books. Hope to see you there!


America Is Blaming Pregnant Women for Their Own Deaths
By Kim Brooks
The New York Times

“Thea was 35 years old and 40 weeks pregnant when she went to her doctor for her final prenatal appointment. She was in good shape, didn’t smoke and had received regular prenatal care, though she wasn’t thrilled with the obstetrics practice she’d chosen in Chicago. The doctors were ‘more interested in protocols than people,’ she said.”

“This is my home”
By Sierra Council and Max Herman
Chicago Reader / City Bureau

“Sara Pitcher has lived in Woodlawn for more than 40 years, ever since her late husband, Reverend Al Pitcher, opened the Covenant Community of University Church, an apartment complex at the corner of 61st and Woodlawn. From her rooftop, she can see the towering dormitories being built by the University of Chicago, blocking the view she once had of the Midway Plaisance Park.”

Pangea has taken thousands to eviction court. The story of an apartment empire
By Maya Dukmasova
Chicago Reader

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“Horton was determined to fight her case; she said she wanted to stay in her unit and believed she’d be able to scrape together the back rent soon. She didn’t realize that being late to her June hearing would mean that her eviction would be set in stone. In the courtroom that day, a uniformed bailiff suggested she file a motion to ask the judge to reconsider. Horton did just that.” 

An Axe for the Frozen Sea”
By Megan Stielstra
Believer Magazine

“Feet still staggered, I bring both hands back over my head. The blade is straight. I’m leaning back. My elbows are at my ears and I’m gripping the handle and everything in me—I don’t know how else to say this—sighs. The knots in my neck untie, brambles in my back untangle. This is what child’s pose used to feel like—the relaxation, the release—but yoga isn’t working for me right now. Neither is bourbon—I’ve been drinking too much—or sleeping—not much at all—or deep breaths or petting dogs or social media breaks or any of a thousand things we do to stay calm, don’t tell me to be calm. I am not fucking calm. I could explode this city with my rage.

I let go of the axe.”

2019 Judges

Judges for the 2019 Chicago Review of Books Awards include the Chicago Review of Books‘s editorial staff and many representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores:

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