Narrative in the News

(April 12, 2024) Washington Post book critic Ron Charles took note of the first place winner of our Ninth Annual High School Writing Contest in his Book Club newsletter, reprinting Kyo Lee’s “Why I Have Decided to Live.”

The full results of the contest and more information about the Narrative for Schools program can be found here.

(January 24, 2024) The Editors and Board of Directors of Narrative are pleased to announce the appointment of Sharon Olken as Executive Director. Olken joins the leadership team of cofounders/editors Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks as Narrative marks its twentieth anniversary. Begun as the first digital literary publisher in North America, Narrative has continued as a leader, offering the Narrative for Schools program and providing its expansive free library of literature and resources to classrooms, libraries, and all readers across the US and in more than thirty-seven countries.

More information about the Sharon’s remarkable story can be found here.

(April 14, 2023) Washington Post book critic Ron Charles took note of the first place winner of our Eighth Annual High School Writing Contest in his Book Club newsletter, reprinting Elane Kim’s “Aftermath.”

The full results of the contest and more information about the Narrative for Schools program can be found here.

(January 19, 2022) Washington Post book critic Ron Charles encouraged “Teachers, take note” of the Seventh Annual Narrative High School Writing Contest in his Book Club newsletter.

This year’s genre is poetry, and the subject is “blind spots.” Students are asked to write about a moment “when you or the world around you was blind to something important. What happened that made things a bit more clear?
More information on the contest, and on the Narrative in the Schools program, can be found here.

(September 29, 2021) The editors of Narrative announced today that for the first time, two $4,000 Narrative Prizes, given annually for exceptional work by an emerging writer published in the previous year in Narrative, will be awarded—one to Morgan Talty and a second to Tryphena L. Yeboah.

Talty, a fiction writer and citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation, earns the prize for his stories “Food for the Common Cold” and “The Gambler.” His previously published work in Narrative includes “Burn,” “Safe Harbor,” and “In a Jar.”

Yeboah, a writer from Ghana, earns the prize for her story “If the Body Makes a Sound” and essay “The Ravages of an Unloved Life.” Her previously published work in Narrative includes “First Light” and “To this God I Will Say.”

In honoring Talty and Yeboah each with the Narrative Prize—with funds totaling $8,000—Narrative cofounder/editor Tom Jenks remarked, “While Morgan Talty and Tryphena Yeboah are two young writers from ostensibly very different worlds—one from the Penobscot Nation in Maine and the other from Ghana—they share a great-heartedness and an intense, nuanced focus on familial roles and the fraught relationships that occur when the known world narrows and grows inimical despite one’s best intentions and desires. Yeboah traverses a previously unexplored land of tribal prejudices and taboos, and Talty recounts the difficult survival of members of a diminished tribe. With lyric power, both writers bring love amid pathos.”

Author and Narrative cofounder/editor Carol Edgarian added, “We have published Morgan’s and Tryphena’s stories across several years, and both writers have put in the hard, patient work to find themselves at an exciting and pivotal moment in their careers. We felt they deserved the recognition that the Narrative Prize brings—and in this year, when so much of the news is grim, why not celebrate with joy and abundance the work of two talented writers! Quite simply, the world needs to hear the stories that only they can tell.”

Talty is a current Lit Event Fellow for Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. He teaches courses in English and Native American Studies and is on the faculty at the Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing. He received his BA in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College and his MFA in fiction from Stonecoast. His story collection, Night of the Living Rez, is forthcoming from Tin House Books (2022). He lives in Levant, Maine.

Yeboah earned her MFA from Chapman University and an MA in development communications from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Her debut chapbook, A Mouthful of Home (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New-Generation African Poets chapbook series. Her writing has recently appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and at Literary Hub, IceFloe Press, and more.

(APRIL 15, 2021) Narrative’s Sixth Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest was featured on City Lights, an arts program on WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station. Host Lois Reitzes spoke with Narrative contest-winner Sarah Lao, discussing the genesis of her contest-winning poem “Triptych,” Amanda Gorman’s reading at the presidential inauguration, how Lao discovered Narrative’s contest, and the opportunity to work with contest judge Javier Zamora to edit her poem. You can listen to the story here.

(APRIL 14, 2021) Narrative announced today that Sarah Lao of Westminster High School (Atlanta, GA) has won first place in the Sixth Annual Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest for her poem “Triptych.”

Aman Rahman of Sachem High School East (Farmingville, NY) won second place, and Elane Kim of Stanford Online High School (Walnut Creek, CA) won third place. All three poems are available for reading in Narrative.

The committee of judges included Salvadoran poet, Narrative Prize winner, and author of Unaccompanied, Javier Zamora; Narrative poetry editor Michael Wiegers; and New York Times–bestselling author and Narrative cofounder/editor Carol Edgarian.

Seven writers were named finalists this year: Kate Baker of Convent & Stuart Hall High School (San Francisco, CA), Jonathan Chu of St. George’s School (Vancouver, BC), Iqra Naseem of Lordswood Girls’ School & Sixth Form Centre (Birmingham, UK), Andre-Padraig Pang of Convent & Stuart Hall High School (San Francisco, CA), Zoe Parkin of Stuyvesant High School (New York, NY), Tanisha Shende of Bergen County Academies (Hackensack, NJ), and Grace Song of William A. Shine Great Neck South High School (Great Neck, NY). Winners and finalists will receive a total of $1,150 in prizes.

Narrative’s “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest is part of the larger Narrative in the Schools program, which provides video writing tutorials, reading lists, and Narrative’s free digital Library of literature to schools, universities, and underserved communities around the world. During this past year of the pandemic, when 90 percent of the world’s students and teachers had to pivot to learning online, the demand for Narrative’s free curated Library of literature and educational resources grew exponentially. In response, Narrative invited all high schoolers, ages fifteen to eighteen, worldwide to participate in this year’s “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest.

Narrative received submissions from students in nineteen countries, including Malaysia, Serbia, Uganda, China, Sweden, Turkey, South Africa, and the Philippines. Within the United States, students and teachers from thirty-nine states and 174 cities and towns—a virtual world of young poets, ages fifteen to eighteen—participated in the contest.

The subjects of the winning poems centered on varying notions of escape: the daily tensions and unspoken longings of a daughter and mother trapped inside during the pandemic; the beauty of boredom as provocation and inspiration—as freedom from the daily distractions of social media; the fear and deep grief of this year of COVID-19 and the marshaling of hope as escape.

“I don’t want to talk of promise in these winning poems because there is something else happening here; these poets are poets, they have arrived,” noted guest judge Zamora. “They will continue to write, regardless of what I say. There’s a lot that we so-called adult/professional poets can learn from these young writers. It’s an honor to select these poems as this year’s winners.”

“The opposite of fear and division is connection, and in their poetry these talented writers teach us that escape is about running toward the things that matter: family, simple pleasures and possibilities, and the healing of the heart,” noted Edgarian. “To dream big, right now, is an act of courage and the best education one could get. At Narrative we’re seeking new voices who will not only delight and inspire us but, through the magic of poetry, will encourage all of us to see the world anew.”

(September 30, 2020) The editors of Narrative have awarded Gbenga Adesina the 2020 Narrative Prize, given annually for the best work by an emerging writer published in the previous year in Narrative. Adesina, a Nigerian poet and essayist, receives the prize for his poem “Across the Sea: A Sequence,” and for previously published work in Narrative that includes “I Carried My Father Across the Sea” and “Ode to What I Do Not Know.”

In giving the award to Adesina, author and Narrative cofounder Carol Edgarian noted, “Gbenga Adesina’s work honors and humanizes the personal and historical grief of immigrant families, the generational scars of racism, the joys and complexities of familial love, and the abiding belief that poetry can carry us across the water. The magic of Adesina’s poetry is that he twines painful truths with abundant gifts of clarity, empathy, and, yes, love.”

Narrative’s poetry editor Michael Wiegers added, “Throughout history poems have affixed in our consciousness tales of human passage and movement. So many of our families, so many of our lives, are the result of immigration, and in Gbenga Adesina’s poetry I’ve repeatedly been struck by the deep homage he pays to family and culture as they reflect on the dignity, eros, and pain of lives in transition and migration. We’re thrilled to celebrate his work with our readers.”

Adesina is a graduate of New York University, where he received an MFA as the Goldwater Poetry Fellow. His poetry chapbook, Painter of Water, a meditation on intimacy in the face of violence, was published in 2016 by APBF and Akashic Books as part of the New Generation African Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani. Adesina, the 2019–2020 Olive B. O’Connor Poetry Fellow at Colgate University, lives in Brooklyn, New York.

(September 25, 2019) The editors of Narrative have awarded Brenden Willey the Narrative Prize, given annually for the best work by an emerging writer published this past year in Narrative. Willey receives the prize for his short story “Things That Don’t Keep a Lightning Bug Alive,” a richly lyrical first-person account of a boy’s experience of his mother’s defection and his father’s brave and gently humorous ways of countering the pain and lifting their hearts. Willey, who grew up in Kernersville, NC, writes about rural life with an eloquence, pathos, and wit that carry forward the inspirations of James Agee, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner.

In giving the award to Willey, Narrative editor Tom Jenks noted, “It’s very rare to encounter a fiction writer whose poetic gifts and mastery of form are graced with deep human understanding and sympathy. Reading Willey’s work is to enter a timeless and universal soulfulness, the fundamental and immediately recognizable place of all light and dark in the world, perceived and offered as a gift by an author whose care, modesty, laughter, and reverence quicken our lives.”

Mr. Willey is a graduate of the University of Oregon and of Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Packer Lecturer in fiction writing. He has taught creative writing at DePauw University and elsewhere and is the recipient of grants and fellowships from Oregon’s Literary Arts and the Elizabeth George Foundation. His stories have previously appeared in Narrative and in other notable periodicals. Currently he is at work on a novel and resides in North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

(May 15, 2019) Narrative Night 2019 took place at Arguello Restaurant in San Francisco’s Presidio and featured readings by Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, Paisley Rekdal, Javier Zamora, as well as a tribute to Narrative’s editors Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks. Leah Garchik, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote: “Despite its utilization of tech tools, 15-year-old Narrative magazine, one of the first digital literary endeavors, is based on a primitive urge: Tell me a story. On a rainy night last week, supporters of the magazine gathered at the Presidio in Traci Des Jardins’ Arguello restaurant to do what storytellers and story-recipients like to do: Eat (tacos) and drink (margaritas), sit shoulder to shoulder, and listen.”

(December 3, 2018) Gentry Magazine featured Narrative’s Voices of a New Generation event in their December issue, highlighting “Narrative’s programs providing an expansive, free digital Library of literature as well as mentorship of young writers in underserved schools across the world.”

(October 17, 2018) The Nob Hill Gazette writes that “Narrative Magazine honored esteemed authors alongside the Bay Area’s literary up-and-comers at its inspiring Narrative Voices of a New Generation event. . . . Acclaimed journalist and best-selling author Susan Orlean discussed her latest mystery, The Library Book, with the magazine’s founder Carol Edgarian, in front of the crowd. Makee Anderson, Castilleja School senior and winner of Narrative’s ‘Tell Me a Story’ contest, also captured the audience with her moving speech. Narrative Voices of a New Generation guests raised funds for the organization’s Narrative in the Schools program, which aims to support teachers and students worldwide.”

(September 26, 2018) The editors of Narrative have awarded Paisley Rekdal the Narrative Prize, given annually for the best work by an emerging writer published in Narrative. Rekdal, who grew up in Seattle and now teaches at the University of Utah, receives the award for a trilogy of poems—“Quiver,” “Telling the Wasps,” and “The Olive Tree at Vouves,” which combine Keatsian lyricism with a mortal questioning of the nature of memory in the modern age.

In giving the award to Rekdal, Narrative’s poetry editor Michael Wiegers noted, “Rekdal revivifies the possibility of the public intellectual. Her poems are groundbreaking investigations—and reinterpretations—of long-treasured Western myths that she infuses with personal urgency and meaning. Already a force in American literature, Rekdal will delight and engage readers’ minds and hearts for decades to come.”

Rekdal, the daughter of a Chinese American mother and a Norwegian father, has lived in many countries, including France, South Korea, Ireland, and Vietnam, and her work embraces a diverse, multicultural view. She earned a BA from the University of Washington, an MA from the University of Toronto, and an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is the author of several poetry collections, including Six Girls without Pants and A Crash of Rhinos, as well as a collection of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee. She is Utah’s Poet Laureate.

(May 9, 2018) Celebrating fifteen years at the vanguard of digital publishing, Narrative announced today that Makee Anderson, a junior at Castilleja School (Palo Alto), has won first place in the Third Annual Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest for her essay “When Everything Changed.”

Ms. Anderson was awarded $500. Grace Sewell of Stanford Online High School (Palo Alto) won the second-place prize of $250, and Ronnie Pereira de Leon of Next Generation Scholars (San Rafael) and Chloe Saraceni of Lick-Wilmerding High School (San Francisco) tied for third place and received $100 each.

Narrative’s “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest is part of the larger Narrative in the Schools program providing a free digital Library of literature to schools around the world. Participating teachers and students in this year’s Narrative contest included public, charter, parochial, and independent high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and as far away as Seoul, Korea. Student work was judged by Narrative’s editorial team, and final winners were selected by Narrative cofounder and New York Times–bestselling author Carol Edgarian. Student essays and fiction, which responded to the prompt “When Everything Changed,” were judged for originality of thought, dynamic language, the evocation of an authentic journey, and a unique perspective.

Four writers also received finalist awards this year: Mae Allen of KIPP King Collegiate High School; Hailey Croushore of Southmoreland High School; Chloe O’Keefe of Lowell High School; and Annika Sigfstead of Lick-Wilmerding High School.

“It’s a central part of what we do at Narrative to bring forward a new generation of storytellers and to share their work with our global audience,” said Edgarian. “These young writers express themselves with a passion and knowing that goes well beyond their years. Their stories are both personal and universal, and speak to the enduring power of stories to give voice to the most essential and binding truths.”

The Narrative in the Schools program grew out of requests from teachers who were already using Narrative’s free Library in their classrooms and were looking for new ways to deepen the engagement of students in the literary arts. Narrative in the Schools is funded in part by grants from Wells Fargo, Amazon, and the Bernard Osher Foundations, and from private donors.

(October 11, 2017) The editors of Narrative Magazine announced today that poet Javier Zamora is the winner of the 2017 Narrative Prize for the best work by a new or emerging writer published this past year in Narrative.

Celebrating fourteen years at the vanguard of digital publishing, Narrative awarded its 2017 Narrative Prize to Zamora for his poems “Sonoran Song,” “To the President-Elect,” and “Thoughts on the Anniversary of My Crossing the Sonoran Desert.” The $4,000 Narrative Prize award recognizes the arrival of a remarkable young poet whose talent and accomplishments signal his staying power.

“In sinuous plainsong that evokes the combined strengths, the bright celebrations, and the dark sorrows of two Americas sharing and transcending borders, Javier Zamora’s verse affirms human commonality and aspiration,” said Tom Jenks, Narrative cofounder and editor. “Javier’s experience and message are crucial amid today’s political confusions, and we look to him as a beacon to the future.”

Born in El Salvador, Zamora traveled alone to America at the age of nine. Now, eighteen years later, his reputation as a poet and immigrant advocate is widely recognized. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, he received his MFA at New York University and is currently a 2016–2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His debut collection, Unaccompanied, was released from Copper Canyon Press on September 5, 2017.

(April 17, 2017) The editors of Narrative Magazine announced today that Scarlett Akeley, a sophomore at the Castilleja School, has won First Prize in the Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest for her essay “Dear America.”

Narrative’s annual contest provides high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors the opportunity to have an original essay published alongside masters of contemporary literature such as Tobias Wolff, Alice Munro, Sherman Alexie, and many others on Narrative’s widely read platform for storytelling.

Ms. Akeley was awarded $500. Hugo Anaya de Jesus of Next Generation Scholars (San Rafael) and Zinnia Finn of Lowell High School (San Francisco), the second and third place winners, received $200 and $100, respectively. Narrative’s annual contest is funded in part by grants from the Wells Fargo and Bernard Osher Foundations.

Five other writers received an Honorable Mention: Maximilian Bliss Depatie of Stuart Hall High School; Celeste McManus of Lowell High School; Sophia Nesamoney of Castilleja School; Laura Rosas-Lara of Lowell High School; and Shania Williams of KIPP King Collegiate.

In 2015 Narrative piloted the High School Contest in response to requests from a growing global network of educators who use Narrative’s free digital Library of thousands of stories, poems, and essays as a resource for teaching literature in their classrooms. Now in its second year, the Narrative contest included thirteen public, charter, parochial, and independent schools in the San Francisco/Bay Area, Chicago, and as far as Seoul, Korea. Student work was judged by Narrative’s editorial team, and final winners were selected by Cofounder and Editor Carol Edgarian. The editorial team read for originality of thought, dynamic language, the evocation of an authentic journey, and a unique perspective in these students’ letters to the country.

“Last September, when we announced that this year’s contest prompt would be ‘Dear America,’ we couldn’t have anticipated how timely the student responses would be,” said Narrative Cofounder and Editor Carol Edgarian. “These writers impressed us with their insights into what it means to consider America in all its light and shadow today, and they reminded us so brilliantly of the enduring power of stories to illuminate the human condition and to give voice to the most essential and binding truths.”

“It’s a central part of what we do at Narrative to bring forward the next generation of storytellers and share their work with our global audience,” Edgarian continued. “This year we were so taken by the insight and urgency that these student writers expressed in their essays. They wrote with passion and a knowing that goes well beyond their years and reminded us to listen when they—our future leaders—speak.”

(December 12, 2016) The work of Narrative editor and cofounder Tom Jenks was highlighted in Poets & Writers’ “The Practical Writer” feature. In the article “Learning from No: Finding Inspiration in Rejection,” Michael Bourne recalls a series of emails exchanged with Jenks, which began as a kind rejection of Bourne’s story and grew into a more thorough discussion of what might be improved in the work. Bourne credits Jenks’s criticism as essential to the story’s evolution and notes how even in a situation where a story is not accepted for publication, a generous editor may provide invaluable writing feedback and criticism.

(October 5, 2016) The editors of Narrative Magazine announced today that writer Sara Houghteling is the winner of the 2016 Narrative Prize for the best work by a new or emerging writer published this past year in Narrative.

Celebrating thirteen years at the vanguard of digital publishing, Narrative awarded its 2016 Narrative Prize to Houghteling for her story “The Thomas Cantor.” In addition to the $4,000 cash prize, the award brings much- deserved attention to an author whose work signals an artistic career filled with potential.

“Sara’s writing is remarkable for its poise, intelligence, and gifts of imagination and precise detail. We’re thrilled to honor her with this year’s Narrative Prize,” said Tom Jenks, editor and Narrative cofounder. “Supporting writers in the early stages of their careers is an essential part of what we do at Narrative. By highlighting these emerging artists, we bring forward new voices that will captivate our global audience in unexpected and beautiful ways.”

Sara won First Place in Narrative’s 2016 Winter Story Contest. Her debut novel, Pictures at an Exhibition (Knopf), was a New York Times Editors’ Choice Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best of 2009 Book. Sara graduated from Harvard College and received her MFA from the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to Paris, first prize in the Avery and Jule Hopwood Award for novels, and a John Steinbeck Fellowship. She teaches fiction in the Stanford Continuing Studies creative writing program.

(December 7, 2015) The editors of Narrative Magazine announced today that Charley Burlock, a senior at the Urban School of San Francisco, has won the first annual Narrative High School Essay Contest. This year’s contest theme was “Where I’m From and Where I’m Going.”

The contest, funded in part by a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, provides high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to see their work published alongside masters of contemporary literature such as Tobias Wolff, Alice Munro, Sherman Alexie, and many others. The first place winner was also awarded $500. Zoe Harris of Lick-Wilmerding High School (San Francisco) and Hugo Aparicio of PUC Community Charter Early College High School (Los Angeles), the second and third place winners, received $200 and $100, respectively. In addition, three other writers received an Honorable Mention: Lily Dodd of the Urban School; Sophie Druckman-Feldstein of the Urban School; and Natalie Podell of Convent of the Sacred Heart High School.

“We were astounded by the resilience and creativity of these young writers,” said Carol Edgarian, novelist and Narrative cofounder. “It is an honor to encourage young talent and to share their work with readers around the world.”

The essay contest, open in this pilot year to six schools in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, is the newest component of the Narrative 30 Below program, which enlarges on Narrative’s well-established digital presence, wide audience, and national literary reputation to encourage readers and writers thirty or younger to enjoy and take part in literary culture.

(September 29, 2015) The editors of Narrative Magazine announced today that poet Ocean Vuong is the winner of the 2015 Narrative Prize for the best work by a new or emerging writer published this past year in Narrative.

Celebrating twelve years at the vanguard of digital publishing, Narrative awarded its 2015 Narrative Prize to Vuong for his poems “Trojan,” “No One Knows the Way to Heaven,” and “Waterline.” In addition to the $4,000 cash prize, the award brings much-deserved attention to an author whose work signals an artistic career filled with potential.

“Ocean’s poetry is singular for its audacity, precision of language, and heart, and we are thrilled to honor him with the Narrative Prize,” said Carol Edgarian, novelist and Narrative cofounder. “More than a third of the hundreds of artists we publish each year are emerging. It’s an essential part of what we do: bringing forward new voices that capture readers around the world in unexpected and beautiful ways.”

Born in a small rural village in Vietnam, Ocean came to the United States as a refugee. He earned a BFA at Brooklyn College and is the author of the chapbooks No and Burnings. His collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds, edited by Narrative Poetry Editor Michael Wiegers, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2016. Ocean’s work has been translated into Hindi, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese, and he is currently enrolled in NYU’s Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program.

(September 15, 2014) In his article Narrative Magazine Keeps Evolving,” Washington Post book editor Ron Charles describes how Narrative has thrived even while offering the magazine for free and paying writers fairly for their work.

From the Washington Post:

Narrative has been a dogged survivor, evolving with each new technological shift. It was one of the first magazines available on the Kindle and one of the first to offer an app. And this month, Narrative launches a classy redesign that demonstrates it can play in the social media world without losing its foundation in high-quality, substantial literature. Somehow, these editors have attracted an audience that wants to read William Carlos Williams and Chekhov on an iPhone.”

(September 11, 2014) Narrative’s redesign and iStory Contest, hosted by Ann Beattie, has been highlighted in In the article Narrative Magazine unveils new look,” editor and cofounder Carol Edgarian explains, “The new site is designed to be bold, easy to navigate, and to showcase what Narrative is all about.”


“Elegant and uncluttered, the magazine’s redesigned site allows readers to view content on a variety of devices. The site is also unveiling new features, including the Narrative 10, a biweekly Q&A with authors, and the 7-Minute Read, essays with timely themes. And all the magazine’s content—including its Library—is free.”

(March 13, 2013) Narrative’s own Tom Jenks was recently interviewed by’s William H. Coles. Jenks discusses his thoughts on storytelling, the craft of literature, inspiration, and the future of publishing.


“In our time, there’s a sense in the adult world that everybody is creative and everybody can be creative. Everybody is equal. The Internet helps reinforce this sense of creative equality—whatever anyone writes is equal to what anyone else writes, and anyone’s opinion of what anyone writes is equal to whatever else anyone has to say on the subject. Art is not democratic. Reading is democratic. Viewing is democratic. It’s meant to be, and should be, accessible to all. But the creation of art is not really democratic.”

(March 4, 2013) James Salter has been named one of the first recipients of the Donald Windham–Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale University for his outstanding achievement in fiction. Salter’s award is one of nine Windham Campbell prizes of $150,000 awarded this year, one of the largest literary prizes in the world. Selections from Salter’s work, including audio and video readings, essays, and a novel excerpt, can be found in Narrative’s Library. For an intimate look into Salter’s life and work, Andrew Southam’s exclusive gallery on the award-winning author “A Writer’s Life” is available in Narrative Backstage.

(February 21, 2013) Narrative is highlighted in Arizona State University’s online literary magazine, Superstition Review. Narrative is due to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its founding this year. Read Narrative’s first issue, from fall 2003, to see how far we’ve come in a decade.

From Superstition Review:

Looking ahead to what the next ten years may bring for Narrative, Jenks said, “Ha! Where’s my crystal ball? As a kid growing up in the 1950s and ’60s and hearing about the Soviet Union, the five-year plan always struck me as a good model, provided you didn’t have to adhere to it rigidly. That is, you can chart the future, knowing that as you reach each milestone the landscape looks somewhat different than imagined, and the chart must be adjusted again and again as you go forward. But Narrative’s primary goals remain the same as when we started: Expand the readership for good writing; support writers by paying them as well as possible and by providing keen editorial encouragement; train young publishing professionals in the best traditional values and new practices; help shape the future of literature within the new media.”

(December 2, 2012) Shortly after the premiere of Narrative author Mermer Blakeslee’s new novel, When You Live by a River, WSKG’s “Off the Page” radio program interviewed Blakeslee and gained some exclusive insights into her poignantly written historical novel. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “Blakeslee’s world, lyrical and mythic, is filled with magic, visions, and dreams.” Listen to the interview for a peek into Blakeslee’s world.


Open the spigot on the water faucet over any sink on Manhattan’s Park Avenue or in Harlem or The Bronx and clear, unfiltered water from Upstate New York will come pouring out. Reservoirs in the Catskills provide parts of the USA’s biggest city with reputedly the finest water supply on Earth. City folks with little knowledge of the Upstate regions still recognize names like Ashokan and Cannonsville, reservoirs that trickle 15 billion gallons of water a day to Gotham, the sites under constant surveillance by a special branch of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection Police and now further protected by political power against incursion by gas drilling. To build these reservoirs many miles of farmland had to be sacrificed and personal lives altered That is some of the background for Mermer Blakeslee’s new novel When You Live By a River, which opens in 1931 just as the city was planning to expand its water supply. The farmers and those who dwell along the East Branch of the Delaware are “not on edge, but on watch”.

(November 29, 2012) Narrative author Will Schutt has been named a winner in the 2012 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Yale University Press will publish Schutt’s poetry collection, Westerly, in April 2013. His poem “

(October 23, 2012) Narrative author Anthony Marra has received this year’s prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award, which every year provides $50,000 each to ten emerging authors, allowing them to write. Established in 1985 by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the award has also honored writers such as Denis Johnson, David Foster Wallace, Ruth Stone, Tobias Wolff, Tony Kushner, Mary Karr, Ann Pancake, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Sherwin Bitsui.

Anthony Marra’s first published story, “Chechnya,” appeared in Narrative, followed by several other stories; his first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth Press), is forthcoming in May; and his first story collection will be published in 2014. Marra is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He grew up in Washington, DC, and now lives in Oakland, California.


(October 12, 2012) The Daily Beast, in their "Rare Letters and Emails" collection, published a series of editorial emails between our own Tom Jenks and Jayne Anne Phillips. The email exchange shows the non-trivial work involved in finding a moving, self-contained excerpt from a novel for publication in Narrative Magazine. Titled “Language Immersion Seoul,” the excerpt from Phillips’s novel Lark and Termite is available on our site for free here.

Also included in the collection are letters from Norman Mailer, Russell Banks, and Denis Johnson, among others.


(May 10, 2012) Bob Lehrman, the winner of Narrative’s Winter 2012 Story Contest, received warm congratulations on his achievement from American University, where he teaches at the School of Communication. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Lehrmann is now returning to writing fiction after a twenty-year career in speechwriting and teaching. The author brings to the page his years of experience in a highly charged political environment and in academia. The article goes on to note that “Narrative has become known for its innovative approach to furthering literary fiction, as well as its policy of publishing both well-known and new writers.” We are delighted to welcome Bob Lehrman back into the fold of fiction.

(March 12, 2012) Narrative Night 2012 took place at Cowell Theater in San Francisco this year and featured readings by poet Matthew Dickman, novelist Melanie Gideon, and novelist and master storyteller Abraham Verghese. Leah Garchik, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote: “Silence is an absolute concept, but while Verghese told his tale, the silence of listeners became more silent. Interested became rapt. If there’d been coughing, it stopped; if there’d been rustling, that stopped, too. In an evening about the power of storytelling, that response told its own story.”

Read Leah’s review in full here, and look at our picture gallery from the night itself.

(December 29, 2011) It heartens us at Narrative Magazine to see that the work we love inspires writers to create their own. A poet and blogger Carol Despeaux has studied a recent Poem of the Week “Provenance” by Joseph Stroud and proposed, as a craft excercise, to write a poem that follows his example: “If you want to see how a great poem is put together, study this poem. Read it out loud. Allow the words to wrap around you, feel their weight on your tongue, in your heart.”

Despeaux’s review of the poem is published on her blog, One Wild World, and Joseph Stroud’s poem can be found here.

(November 13, 2011) Narrative’s Fall 2011 issue received a full five-star review from literary journal rating website The Review Review. Rudy Oldeschulte concludes her article with praise for Narrative’s ongoing contribution to literary publishing in the digital age:

Narrative’s aim is quite expansive—that is, to connect the communities of readers and writers around the globe, opening minds and increasing critical perspectives in our literary pursuits. Our literary world benefits immensely because of the presence of Narrative, and the invitation to enter their parlor and join the conversation is earnest.

Read the full review here, and don’t forget to enjoy the Fall 2011 issue for yourself.

(April 12, 2011) Positive buzz for the Narrative App continues to build, the latest of which comes from Joel Mathis’s review in Macworld:

Need proof we’re living in a literary golden age? Narrative, a free app from Narrative Magazine, might be all the evidence you need. Top-notch essays, stories, poems, cartoons, and more are contained within—at no cost to the reader. What more could an iPhone-or-iPad-owning bibliophile ask for?

You can learn more about the Narrative App here before downloading it directly from the iTunes App Store.

(December 26, 2010) Narrative Magazine’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of literary publishing was recently recognized by MSN’s digital magazine In their annual round-up of the year’s best new products, the Narrative App was named one of 2010’s top ten must-use apps. Dubbed “the intellectual’s eReader,” the Narrative App is available now for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Download it here today!

(October 4, 2010) Narrative Magazine was recently highlighted in an article featured on PBS’s digital media blog MediaShift. Focusing on Narrative’s unique approach to the future of digital publishing, the article even includes a special preview of upcoming content customization features. The article is a great read for anyone interested in how Narrative Magazine will continue to usher storytelling into the digital age.

(April 10, 2010) In their first quarterly issue of 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts featured an article on the business of books, with Narrative Magazine’s digital publishing model a key focus. Providing a behind-the-scenes look at the way in which Narrative functions and thrives, it is an essential read for anyone looking to learn more about the current state of publishing both in the print and digital arenas.

(March 15, 2010) Narrative Night 2010 recently concluded after a dazzling night of great wine and even better literature. Master storytellers Ann Beattie and James Salter, along with emerging author Anthony Marra, read for an enraptured audience at Fort Mason on the night of March 10, after a dazzling cocktail buffet on Telegraph Hill. Thanks in no small part to the generosity and passion of our honored readers and guests, the night was a smashing success, and as the San Francisco Chronicle’s own Leah Garchik pointed out in her recent write-up of the event, “Everybody loves a happy ending.”

(February 28, 2010) Featured Narrative author Richard Bausch’s latest story collection, Something Is Out There, received plaudits in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. Reviewer Maria Russo, writing about the story “Sixty-five Million Years,” commented,

With its movement away from ego and vanity, this brave, deceptively modest story tempts you to see a bit of the priest in Richard Bausch’s own vocation as a writer. Again and again, he excavates the darkest corners of his characters’ lives without giving in to despair.

Many of the stories in Something Is Out There were first published in Narrative and are available in our Library:

Sixty-five Million Years
The Harp Department in Love
Reverend Thornhill’s Wife


(February 17, 2010) Narrative Library’s debut novella publication, Rick Bass’s The Blue Horse, received positive buzz from The Washington Post this week. Opening a brief history of Narrative Magazine’s progressive publishing strategies, Stephen Lowman goes on to praise The Blue Horse as “a fine, old-fashioned hunting story” written with an “artist’s eye for detailing landscape and conveying its splendor.” Order your copy of The Blue Horse HERE.


(December 5, 2009) Cofounding Editor Carol Edgarian and Narrative author Katayoon Zandvakili represented Narrative at a San Francisco’s reading series, Babylon Salon (which is partly run by Assistant Editor Tim Rien). Zandvakili read from her book in progress, In the Lap of the Gods: My Eight-&-a-Half-Month Marriage to an Impostor, while Edgarian’s warm introduction prompted questions such as, “What is the secret to inner peace” from an attending SF Examiner reporter. Missed it? Watch the videos HERE.


(November 16, 2009) Narrative sponsored “Dangerous Places and Dangerous Stories: The Writer as Environmental Activist” at the California Academy of Sciences. Authors and environmental activists Rick Bass and James G. Workman talked with Carol Edgarian, cofounder and coeditor of Narrative, about the challenges and compromises facing environmental activists who use the pen as their sword.


Rick Bass, Carol Edgarian, and James G. Workman

(November, 2009) The Intersection of the Arts 2009 James Duval Phelan Literary Award was bestowed upon Narrative author Edan Lepucki of Los Angeles, California, for her fiction manuscript “Days of Insignificance and Evil.” The Intersection of the Arts is a nonprofit art space located in San Francisco that promotes the intersection of artists and audiences.


(October, 2009) A warm round of applause to 2008 Narrative Prize winner Alexi Zentner for penning a book deal with W. W. Norton (with various foreign rights in the UK, Holland, Italy, Canada, and Israel) for his forthcoming novel Touch. The novel is set in and around the world of “Trapline,” Zentner’s short story that won him the Narrative Prize. Fingers crossed for a publication date of Spring 2011.


(October 17, 2009) Narrative debuted at Litquake’s Lit Crawl with six Narrative authors whose work has helped us become the gold standard of online literary magazines. Tom Barbash, Melanie Gideon, Charlie Haas, Kara Levy, and Matthew Zapruder read about the Seven Deadly Sins, with some of them sinning a bit more than the others.


(April 20, 2009) Narrative was named Best Online Publication by storySouth’s yearly recap of online publications and stories. Narrative was also given kudos for being the best publisher of novella-length fiction, and eight Narrative pieces were cited in their Million Writers Awards as notable stories: “Little Fuckers” by Robert Olen Butler, “Stones” by Jeanie Kortum, “Superhero” by Reese Kwon, “Animals” by Edan Lepucki, “Magic Words” by Jill McCorkle, “The Structure of Bubbles” by Emily Raboteau, “The Royal Reykjavík Sex Tour” by Scott Spencer, and “Interview with a Moron” by Elizabeth Stuckey-French. Congratulations to the writers!


(March 13, 2009) 7x7’s Catherine Bigelow found readers and writers in a celebratory mood at the annual Narrative Night, which featured writers Robert Stone, Jennifer Egan, Tobias Wolff, Kara Levy, and photographer Alison Yin. Stone’s wife, Janice, summed up the vibe of the night when she said, “Whatever makes people read, even if it’s on a lighted plastic screen . . . Well, then, God bless them!”


(February 17, 2009) Cofounding Narrative editor Tom Jenks talks to Judy Darley at about opening the mail, enlarging our view of ourselves and the world, and the wisdom to be found in eating oysters with friends.


(February 9, 2009) Across the pond, The Belfast Telegraph looks at the brave new world of brave new media (of which Narrative is glad to be a part).


(February 5, 2009) Sarah Weinman, freelance writer and critic, comments on the nuances recent Narrative authors David Corbett, Andy Gross, John Lescroart, and Daniel Woodrell bring to their work. Weinman explores the fine, but blurry, line between observation and participation where writers often perch, or as Corbett puts it in his Narrative essay, “At what point does observation fail us; that is, when do we begin to imagine, and why?”


(February 2, 2009) Blogger Maud Newton talks with Narrative cofounder and editor Tom Jenks about where and how fiction meets technology, what to do about it, and what not to do about it. Newton also addresses the opportunities of story submission fees.


(January 28, 2009) Every Writers Resource, a Web-based reference site for writers and readers, released their Top 20 survey of online literary magazines. Culled from hundreds of distinguished publications, Narrative Magazine received number one accolades for “both their content and their vision.”


(January 22, 2009) Esquire magazine looks to the future of publishing . . . and likes what it sees. Writer Kristin O’Toole demands respect for online literary magazines; we concur, though not necessarily because she tags Narrative “the gold standard for online literary magazines.” But if Narrative had a “Women We Love” list, O’Toole would lead the pack.


(January 9, 2009) Jacket Copy, the book news and information blog at the Los Angeles Times, encourages its readers to download Narrative to their Kindle.


(January 8, 2009) Narrative is the first and only literary magazine now on Amazon’s electronic reading device, Kindle. Gary Clarke, head of Kindle’s periodical division, noted that Narrative sets the standard for literature online and shares Amazon’s enthusiasm for providing readers with distinctive quality material with affordability and ease. Click here to get Narrative on Kindle, or download the Narrative Kindle Release.pdf .


(October 19, 2008) Narrative receives a nod from Maine writer Raymond Brunyanszki for being the first to publish an excerpt from Chandler Burr’s book “You or Someone Like You” years ago. More recently, Narrative published a review of “The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris & New York,” Burr’s behind-the-scenes book about the perfume industry. As Narrative goes, so goes the nation.


(September 15, 2008) Maud Newton spreads the good news that she and her “publication sibling” and friend Alexi Zentner each have a story in Narrative. Newton’s memoir “Conversations You Have at Twenty” was one of Narrative’s Love Story Contest winners in the Spring 2008 issue, and Zentner’s story “Trapline” made its debut on September 17, 2008. Encore!


(August 13, 2008) Author Robert Grudin extols Narrative’s “squadron of international writing stars” in a post on digital literary salon Red Room. Grudin notes that, like Red Room, Narrative “seeks to turn the Internet into a medium of literacy and inquiry.” We couldn’t agree more.


(July 2008) San Francisco magazine’s Pamela Feinsilber thinks publishers have created a self-fulfilling prophecy and laments the industry preference of the “ordinary novel” over the “unforgettable short story.” Citing Narrative as a source for quality literature on the Internet, Feinsilber is optimistic about the resurgence of short stories and the future of reading.


(July 24, 2008) Narrative puts its money where its mouth is and proves its commitment to supporting writers by offering “lucrative” prize money in its contests. The Los Angeles Times’s blog, Jacket Copy: Book News and Information, recently noted this financial fount for writers after Narrative launched its First-Person Contest. Blogger Carolyn Kellogg tells her readers that Narrative is “spreading the money love around” and encourages writers to get in on the action.


(July 14, 2008) Michael Krasny hosted a discussion on San Francisco KQED’s Forum about the future of the short story, calling on Tom Jenks to illuminate what lies ahead for short story authors amid a general sense that the publishing industry prefers to support novels. Jenks describes how the short story is not only welcome at Narrative but flourishing. San Francisco magazine’s Pamela Feinsilber and author Tobias Wolff join in on the fun.

The Future of the Short Story (52:00)


(June 25, 2008) The pleasures of Narrative’s Summer 2008 issue has Matt Ellsworth thinking of the “flavor–drowsy, maybe playful, a little menace beneath the ease…” torpor of hot summer days; Ellsworth concludes the poetry of Alberto Álvaro Ríos captures this essence. As for the rest of the issue? Ellsworth writes, “Like always, it’s well-stocked with splendid employment of the latest word processing software.”


(June 15, 2008) The three guys of the Three Guys One Book Blog review the winning pieces in Narrative’s Love Story Contest within the scope of the rhetorical question, ‘who knows more about love than guys?’ Apparently, Narrative writers do. Jason Rice declares “these tightly focused tales of woe” cleverly combine humor and discomfort, (the recipe for most love stories, alas) while Jason Chambers says Elizabeth Stuckey-French’s prize-winner “examines the struggle between brotherly rivalry and affection.” Dennis Haritou closes his review of Janet Burroway’s “Blackout” with his simple exhortation: “Read the damn story.” Narrative suggests you read them all (available in our Library).


(June 5, 2008) Blake Wilson, in his New York Times’s Book Blog, Paper Cuts, likens Narrative to a “little walled garden” where everything receives the utmost care and attention. He hails it as an exemplary literary oasis on the web.


(May 18, 2008) Writer and Exile on Ninth Street blogger Todd Glasscock remembers the spirit of encouraging words from Tom Jenks on his writing (the actual words themselves, lost among moving boxes over the years). He compares the Spring 2008 issue of Narrative Magazine to Jenks’s comments; supportive, optimistic, and memorable.


(May 18, 2008) Maud Newton’s incisive blog is an indispensible source for literary news (or as she puts it, “occasional literary links, amusements, politics, and rants”) on the Web; in May Narrative received a nod for its new Works in Progress feature, which reveals well-known authors’ works in progress and the people and ideas behind them.


(March 19, 2008) In a post at Red Room, author Fran Moreland Johns remarks on the convivial atmosphere at the Narrative event in San Francisco last March, which featured wonderful readings from both Tobias Wolff and Amy Tan. Joking good-humoredly with the audience, Wolff commented on the crowds Tan draws at her readings: “You have to love someone a lot not to want to kill her when the waiting line stretches all the way around the block.”


(March/April 2008) “We view the future of literature as being digital,” Tom Jenks declares in Poets & Writers magazine. In the article, Kevin Larimer ponders the future of the literary magazine (will it be a print future, or online only?), and notes Narrative Magazine’s working model: an emphasis on the online format, while providing printed editions for readers who prefer the hard copy. Narrative’s bold new venture, Narrative Library, will publish titles in a variety of digitally based formats and promises further innovation. Stay tuned.


(March 6, 2008) “I don’t think there’s ever been a greater period of opportunity for writers, for literary work,” Tom Jenks tells Tamara Strauss in a profile of Narrative for the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Arts section. Founders Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks discuss this revolutionary period for publishing in an extensive interview that covers everything from how they met to their vision for Narrative and online publishing.


(2008) In the crowded landscape of online publications, Jack Smith singles out those whose credentials and quality render publication therein an authentic coup for writers; Narrative’s quickly established reputation for high-caliber work makes it a standout on that shortlist.


(December 27, 2007) The talented Alicia Gifford won first place in Story South’s 2005 “Million Writer’s Award” for “Toggling the Switch,” published in Narrative. Story South has recognized Narrative in this contest every year since 2004, naming Narrative the best new online journal (2004) and best online publisher of longer-length fiction (2006). Narrative appears at the top of Story South’s 2007 ranking of the best online journals and magazines.


(November 7, 2006) John Marshall, in a laudatory article for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, chronicles Narrative’s modest beginnings and swift growth at a time when literary fiction is verging on extinction. As traditional outlets like Esquire, the Atlantic, Harper’s and The New Yorker scale back their publication of literary fiction, Narrative supports writers with competitive compensation and an old-fashioned regard for the value of reading.


(October 8, 2007) Prior to a Narrative Night event in Santa Fe featuring Robert Olen Butler, Dan Gerber, Ann Beattie, and Arthur Sze, Narrative founders and editors Tom Jenks and Carol Edgarian spoke with Santa Fe Radio Café about story-telling in the digital era. Host Mary-Charlotte Domandi discovered that reading Narrative made her breathe more slowly (unlike most Internet experiences) and that a literary community can be a global notion.


Blogger Terry Bain marvels at the talent of Narrative writer Pia Z. Ehrhardt, whose gifts are in full bloom in “Famous Fathers.”