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EWU’s Buckingham wins short fiction prize

The end of the year love is beginning and three local writers are feeling it.

Polly Buckingham, a senior lecturer in the English department at Eastern Washington University, has won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Short Fiction, awarded by the University of North Texas Press.

The prize comes with a $1,000 cash award as well as publication of her story collection. “The Expense of a View” will be released in November 2016. The prize was judged by novelist/memorist Chris Offutt (“The Good Brother”).

Buckingham, who teaches creative writing, is a three-time finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Prize, and a previous winner of the Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award for Fiction from the Florida Review Press. She is the founding editor of StringTown Press and an associate director of Willow Springs, Eastern’s literary journal. Her work has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, the Threepenny Review and several other journals. She also was among the writers featured in the first season of The Spokesman-Review’s Summer Stories series, in 2014. Her story, “Mirage,” is available online at www.spokesman.com/longform/ summer-stories/.

S.M. Hulse’s debut novel “Black River” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) has been selected as one of the best books of 2015 by the Seattle Times.

The taut modern Western, about a former prison guard dealing with the aftermath of a riot that changed his life, was among 16 works of fiction selected by Times’ critics. Other fiction books on the list include Jonathan Franzen’s “Purity,” “Grant Park” by Leonard Pitts Jr., Nick Hornby’s “Funny Girl” and “Finders Keepers” Stephen King. In selecting “Black River,” critic Barbara Lloyd McMichael noted the book “is an intricate work that layers faith with broken promises, broken bones, and broken hearts. This is a story of people shaped irrevocably by place and circumstance.”

“Black River” is being released in paperback on Jan. 5. Hulse also was featured in the Summer Stories series, in 2015’s Lake Edition. Her story, “Across the Water” can be found at www.spokesman.com/ summer-stories-lake-edition.

“The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly,” by Stephanie Oakes, has been named a finalist for the 2016 Morris Award, presented by the American Library Association.

The award honors the best book written for young adult audiences by a previously unpublished author.

Oakes’ harrowing novel, published by Dial Books, centers on a young girl who is raised as a member of a cult in the Montana woods. Her decision to stand up to the Prophet has devastating consequences, but she manages to break free. In her rage and confusion, she commits an act of terrible violence and is forced to confront her past.

Other finalists are:

“Because You’ll Never Meet Me” by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury Children’s Books);

“Conviction” by Kelly Loy Gilbert (Hyperion)

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli (Balzer & Bray;

and “The Weight of Feathers” by Anna-Marie McLemore (Thomas Dunne Books)

The winner will be announced Jan. 11.