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Creative Nonfiction Competition 2020 Winners Announced


Submissions to our Creative Nonfiction Competition carried readers into the lives of writers around the world. Your words revealed to us the nuances involved in all types of relationships—the connections that we have with human beings similar to, and different from, ourselves; the bonds we forge with communities both local and global; the attachments we form with the natural world, the flora and fauna that surround the places we call home. 

Below, Guest Judge Rachel Friedman shares her commentary on the winning entries and peer review. Her words remind us of the beauty inherent in our daily lives, and the importance of capturing and celebrating that beauty through the written word.

Happy reading!

Winner: “Veneer” by Koby Chen, Canada

This essay opens with a matter-of-fact but compelling first sentence. I knew immediately where I was and how it felt.  The first sentence of a piece has to pull the reader into the writer’s world—whether it is brief and direct, or meandering and descriptive—and Koby’s did just that. From those first six words, the rest of the essay unfolds beautifully.  In one brief scene, the narrator manages  to convey complicated layers of insider/outsider divides that span generations and countries. Well done with this lovely piece of writing.

Runner Up: “Falling Worms” by ninjin, Mongolia

I felt like I was right there in the kitchen with ninjin and her mother and as they prepared “nomadic soul food.” It is a testament to the narrator’s descriptive skills that I could imagine her grownup mother as she “sliced across” the room, as well as her mother as a little girl leaving “mushrooms to dry on the clothesline” in the Mongolian countryside.  I also loved how the author set up a subtle but powerful contrast between her mother’s exploratory childhood adventures and the writer’s urban, restricted quarantine reality.


Peer Review Winner: “For better or for worse” reviewed by Ravi Tej Guntuku, US

Ravi offered thorough, constructive, encouraging peer review of “For better or for worse.”  Ravi’s comments were a useful mix of broader creative writing concepts paired with examples specific to the writer’s piece. Ravi also asked the writer probing questions to get them thinking about specific potential improvements. Great work.


“A death, an Orange Tree, and an Empty-Eyed Sentimentalist” by A Certain Type of Decisive, US

“My Dad and I” by obiwan-kenobi, Turkey

“Buena Vista Social Club” by Tula.S, Cuba

“Common Threads of Broken Bones and the Loss of Innocence” by swansatcoole, US

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