Announcing the Winner of Hey Alma’s First Ever Fiction Contest

We were blown away by the quality and range of the submissions we received, and it was a true joy to read through each one.

Back in March, when we announced Hey Alma’s first ever fiction contest, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew love short stories — reading them, writing them, talking about them — but I didn’t know if our audience felt the same way. It didn’t help that when we put out the call for Jewish short stories, we couldn’t even really define what that means. What makes a story Jewish? Do its characters need to be Jewish? Do its themes need to feel Jewish? Does it need to include a very funny text exchange with the protagonist’s childhood rabbi?

Turns out none of those things are necessary, but they certainly don’t hurt.

We were blown away by the quality and range of the many, many submissions we received to this contest, and it was a true joy to read through each one. Yiddish ghosts, golems, grandparents and synagogue basements all made their fair share of appearances. So too did thoughtful explorations of generational trauma, Jewish identity, belief in God and the horrors of dating.

In the end, the Hey Alma team narrowed these down to five stories to pass along to our esteemed guest editor, T Kira Madden, who, after some hard deliberation, chose a story that we are absolutely thrilled to share with you today.

“Husband, Baby, Shell” by Phoebe Kranefuss immediately caught our attention with its propulsive plot, biting interior dialogue and yes, a very funny text exchange with the protagonist’s childhood rabbi. T Kira Madden had this to say about the winning short story she selected:

“Hilarious, absurd, surprising, and ultimately, shattering — I love a story that shows me a threshold, a line in the sand, and then boldly, confidently, crosses it. Kranefuss, with sharp and incisive language, had me cringing with delight on every page. Beneath the delicious premise of this piece is the very human, very sincere, thrum of desire. It’s a meditation on time, pleasure, fate, self-mythologizing and self-honesty; ‘Husband, Baby, Shell’ asks what it means to want more, what it means to finally reach for it.”

Phoebe Kranefuss is a writer, artist and Hebrew School graduate currently pursuing her MFA in Fiction at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She writes about women struggling privately and behaving badly, mothers and daughters, and growing up. Her work has been published in The Rejoinder, Breakwater Review, Slackjaw, The Belladonna Comedy, and elsewhere. She’s currently at work on her first novel. You can learn more on her website, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Courtesy of Phoebe Kranefuss

And so, without further ado, please click here to read Phoebe’s story “Husband, Baby, Shell.” And stay tuned in the coming weeks when we share some more wonderful fiction from our contest runners up.

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