Kestrel, Fairmont State University's professional literary and art journal, is delighted to announce that Stanley Patrick Stocker's short story “The List,” which appeared in Kestrel 42, has been chosen as a winner of PEN America’s 2021 Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.
“Fairmont State prides itself on the depth of its opportunities that enable others to soar,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “For nearly three decades, Kestrel has opened doors for emerging writers, giving them a platform to showcase their talent.”
Winning writers and the journals in which their work was originally published will be recognized at a ceremony on April 8. The Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize, which carries a $2,000 award and publication in an annual anthology titled Best Debut Short Stories, is indicative of Kestrel’s mission to support emerging writers. “The List” was Stocker’s first published short story.
“Every now and then, a character’s voice captures me right away,” said Kestrel's fiction editor, Suzanne Heagy. “Stocker’s story opens with a narrator talking to their sister, and then the heart-breaking conflict unfolds. A man has lost his only child to a tragic accident and might lose his wife and marriage in the grieving aftermath. The narrator, his sister, and his wife are fully realized characters who turn in a circle of directions after the child’s death, to literature, philosophy, mysticism, and physical estrangement and retreat. Each suffers in a particular way. More than that, the characters are self-contained and revealed, known and unfolding mysteries, who grieve apart but who remain connected. When the narrator and his wife eventually reunite, a baby has already been made. The story’s resolution is surprising, magical, and well-earned.”
Kestrel is sponsored by the Department of Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts. The journal began as part of Fairmont State's celebration of its quasquicentennial in 1993.