From the Fiction Editor

by | Nov 8, 2016


Brief note from the managing editor: 

For this week’s blog post, we feature Shelia O’Connor’s thoughts on 2016 WSR Fiction Prize winner, Saba Waheed’s piece “World Cup”. Ms. Waheed will be joining us on Friday for our Annual Reading and Reception. We hope you can be with us to hear Saba and other contributors for what is always a very special event on our calendar. See Facebook event.

From the fiction editor:

Every few years, Water~Stone Review hosts its annual fiction contest, a call for anonymous manuscripts with the winner selected by an outside judge. For me, securing the judge is nearly as exciting as the early screening of manuscripts, mostly because it means an esteemed writer whose work I’ve long admired will be making one of the most anticipated editorial decisions of that year, and I am as eager as the writers to learn what the decision will be.

This year our judge, Nami Mun, selected “World Cup” by Saba Waheed, the story of Adeena and Bilal, and their awkward, whiskey-infused reunion. But like the best short fiction, “World Cup” is about so much more, including love and loss, family and tradition. Rich in subtext, with pitch-perfect dialogue and well-drawn characters, “World Cup” is the work of a serious writer to watch. Out of the more than sixty manuscripts we received, I am delighted this powerful story won.

As Nami Mun so eloquently wrote of “World Cup”: “When I finished reading ‘World Cup,’ I immediately wanted to read it again. I wanted to see how the writer, in only a few pages, got me to think about Kate Chopin, Grace Paley, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Essentially, the story had me thinking: How can a person be when a personhood is filled with so many beings? Or to recycle a bit of Sartre: this story of sharp dialogue and artful compression reminds us that the ‘others’—with all of their silent and not-so silent judgments—have given us the means (possibly the only means) for how we judge ourselves.

“In ‘World Cup’ hell isn’t other people. Hell is realizing that there is no escaping aunts or parents or a nation of expectations; that it’s nil-nil, no matter how one keeps score. I could go on about ‘World Cup’ and its merits, but I think that’s my point. A good story never ends. A good story, in the right reader’s mind, can only expand.”

Read it once, then read it again. And again. And then, pass it on.

Sheila O’Connor


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