2017 Short Story

We are thrilled to announced the winners of the Inaugural Woolf Short Story Competition (Theme: RAW):

1st place: Kate Paine – Melting Ice
2nd place: J. Rushing – Wounds
3rd place: K.C. Allen – Of Baking and Blackbirds

Shortlisted authors in alphabetical order with the titles of their stories:

K.C. Allen – Of Baking and Blackbirds
Jennifer Copley – Milk
Ben Francis – Raw Pleasures in Valais
Delaney Green – Red My Marrow and Supple My Bones
Louise Mangos – Love is Blind
Yves Oban – Dialectics
Kate Paine – Melting Ice
Jihoon Park – Sannakji
J. Rushing – Wounds
Gladys Yegon – Mangled Polygon vs the Robinets

Congratulations to the winners!

Judge’s Report

Reading each story—which I did at least twice, if not many times more—on the shortlist of the inaugural Woolf story competition has been a privilege and pleasure. But singling out a first-, second-, and third-place winner is a little heartbreaking. Each story owns its own universe and concerns; even in those sharing a similarly domestic scenario the narrators range from a dissatisfied, well-heeled married couple (“Dialectics”) to a vengeful sightless woman (“Love is Blind”) to a grieving African expatriate (“Mangled Polygon vs the Robinets”). One exhilarating story (“Raw Pleasures of Valais”) plunges the reader down fresh powder in the Swiss Alps. A particularly imaginative, haunting work (“Milk”) takes the reader into a dystopian future devoid of privacy. Two of the very most accomplished stories are polar opposites in genre: a stomach-turning piece of verisimilitude about culture clash (“Sannakji”) and an eerie fairytale about mother-daughter abuse (“Red My Marrow and Supple My Bones”). With such a panoply of excellence to choose from, I decided to follow the lead of the competition’s theme, Raw. In both the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries, “raw” has multiple definitions: “not cooked”; “in its natural state” and “unprocessed”; “strong and undisguised”; “new to an activity”; “unprepared”; “chafed”; “unbridled”; “frank and realistic”; “not protected”; “susceptible to hurt”; “naked.” I loved how each of the three winning stories integrates both literal and metaphoric interpretations of the word to create a resonance well beyond its scenario.

Third place goes to the terrifying “Of Baking and Blackbirds,” in which a mother cheerfully mixes cookie dough with her suicidal daughter, while internally trying to stave off panic. Second place goes to the affecting “Wounds,” in which a survivor of violence re-visits both past trauma and its incarcerated perpetrator, in a slow bid for recovery. And then there is the surprising “Melting Ice,” in which a group of drunken, supposed friends at a barbecue share one brief moment of transparency, before retreating into their individual prisms of existence. Appearing at first simple, almost comic, this story ends up being anything but. The same can be said for its incisive descriptive language, so deftly has it been fused to the story’s theme and voice. I couldn’t stop thinking about “Melting Ice,” which is one of the best things that can be said of a work of fiction and why I am awarding it first place.

Congratulations to everyone. It’s a terrible responsibility to sort out winners with so many deserving stories in the mix, and I sincerely hope and expect to see many of those works that don’t appear in The Woolf published somewhere else in the future.

Anne Korkeakivi

The Winners

Kate Paine, 1st place

Kate Paine is an Australian musician, teacher, and writer living with her husband and daughter in a little house near the lake in Meilen, Kanton Zürich. On the music side, she has a music-teaching studio at home and regularly sings with a big band or with her jazz-piano playing husband. As for writing, she has published creative non-fiction and has just finished writing an historical novel as part of a Ph.D. in creative writing through Deakin University in Australia. She has an academic writing and research skills coaching service in English for students of all ages and for organisations. She finds music and writing go together beautifully. Not only are they both so creative but they also really ask something from you that is challenging yet
also incredibly rewarding.

J. Rushing, 2nd place

J. Rushing is an American writer whose work blends elements of adventure, fantasy, science fiction, and horror to create worlds that feel as familiar as they do foreign. He is a former teacher who traded the microbreweries and Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest for raclette, chocolate, and the Swiss Alps. He and his wife live in Baden, near Zürich and spend much of their time traveling and immersing themselves in the outdoors.


K.C. Allen, 3rd place

After globe-trotting for years and living and working in multilingual and multicultural environments, K.C. Allen returned to her birthplace—Switzerland—some twenty years ago. Fascinated by words in general, she works in and out of various foreign languages in marketing and communications. Whether it’s creating, editing, or translating communications content, her mission is always to find the ever-elusive perfect word. Allen spends her free time hiking mountain and lakeside trails with the family dog, is determined to leave no cheese or chocolate behind, and loves trying to capture Mother Nature’s beauty through the


Congratulations to you all!



Announced 10th January

​Our inaugural short story competition has been a truly international occurence with around 60% of entries hailing from as far afield as the US, along with many countries closer to ‘home’ such as Denmark, the UK, France and Spain. Around 40% of our entries ​were from The Woolf’s local stomping ground in Switzerland.

​​The authors of the long-listed stories are published below. Story titles will remain under wraps until​ our judge, Anne Korkeakivi, has completed the final assessment.

Long-listed authors, in alphabetical order, are:

Preston Bailey

Jennifer Copley

Christina Kain

E.S. Dinning

Benjamin Francis

Delaney Green

Alex Hintermann

Jonathan Huston

Thomas Lehn

Louise Mangos

Daphne Martin

Yves Oban

Kate Paine

Jihoon Park

Alexandre Puttick

J. Rushing

Enda Scott

Michael Simpson

Daniel Staniforth

John H Wolfram

Gladys Yegon

Congratulations to you all!


This is the link to subscribe to The Woolf mailing list, and watch out for announcements on this very page (thewoolf.org/competitions/) and by liking our Facebook page.

Shortlist to be announced 1st February

Judge: Anne Korkeakivi

Anne Korkeakivi

Anne Korkeakivi is the author of the novels An Unexpected Guest (2012) and Shining Sea (2016), both from Little, Brown. Her short fiction and nonfiction have been published by the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times (UK), Travel & Leisure, Time, Ms., Architectural Digest, the Yale Review, the Bellevue Literary Review, The Millions, Literary Hub, and many other periodicals in the US, the UK, and online. An essay that ran originally in Brain, Child was chosen for Best Women’s Travel Writing, Vol. 10. She is a Hawthornden Fellow and recipient of the Lois Kahn Wallace Writers Award.

Anne holds a BA in Classics from Bowdoin College and an MA in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She was born in New York City, raised there and in western Massachusetts, and has since lived also in any number of places, including Helsinki, Finland; Los Angeles; Washington, DC; Cambridge, MA; and Strasbourg in eastern France, from where she worked for the publisher Flammarion and traveled to Paris often. She currently splits her time between New York City and Geneva, Switzerland, where her husband is a human-rights lawyer with the UN. They have two daughters.