Essay on Electric Literature

My essay about a trip to Spain, motherhood, Seville sculptor Anna Jonsson and Spanish suffragist Clara Campoamor is up on Electric Literature. Here’s the opening:

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My husband, baby, and I were on vacation in Andalusia. The thirteen month-old napped in the car while we drove to the next destination, the historical city center of Seville, then put him into a pack and tried to take in a site or two. We needed food. A recent rain had emptied most outdoor tables. We dove inside a restaurant on the Plaza de la Pescadería. The baby refused to stay put. He couldn’t yet walk, and his attempts at crawling his way across dirty floors to cobblestone squares made me nervous. I gulped down my meal, and, while my husband ate, carried the baby to a window. A few neighborhood kids were chasing a ball through the puddles. Baby was mesmerized — for five whole minutes.

Soccer. My eyes rested on the ball, tracing its movements. The kids pushed it between the empty café tables, using two of them as goalposts. One team took charge and ran the ball toward the pedestal of a small statue….

Read the rest of the piece here.

Interview in a Russian journal

Интервью брал Сергей Князев для журнала “Питербук”:

Недавно в московском издательстве «Время» вышел сборник рассказов Ольги Гренец «Хлоп-страна». Как и две предыдущих книги, вышедших в петербургских издательствах, — «Кофе Inn» и «Ключи от потерянного дома» — это переводы с английского, несмотря на то, что Ольга — уроженка Ленинграда и, по своим собственным словам, заочно училась писать у Лидии Корнеевны Чуковской и Михаила Булгакова. В интервью русская писательница, живущая в Сан-Франциско и сочиняющая на английском говорит о своем третьем сборнике рассказов «Хлоп-страна», разнице между русским и американским Сэлинджером и правилах создания текста, которые можно не соблюдать.

— У вас вышла уже третья книга рассказов. Почему именно рассказы, ведь считается, что популярностью у публики и издателей пользуются главным образом романы?

— Когда я только начинала писать, трудно было бороться со своим внутренним критиком. Напишешь предложение, думаешь: так уже тысячу раз писали, надо по-другому…

Продолжение тут.

Infestation

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Lying in bed on Saturday night, her eyes closed in the imperfect darkness of the room, her limbs cooling from the day’s chores, Marcie felt a crawling sensation on her right arm, the one outside the blanket. Something crept from her shoulder down to her wrist and then jumped to her belly.

Marcie was lying on her left side, hugging the body pillow in a way that felt comfortable in the thirty-second week of pregnancy. The squash-sized creature inside her belly was still asleep, but the longer she stayed horizontal, the sooner it would be waking up. Marcie needed to get her sleep as efficiently as possible.

The sheet, covering her belly, moved. ….

read the rest of the story in World Literature Today’s January issue.

New Short Stories 9: Awards and Launch

Copying the post by the Willesden Herald:

Katy Darby announces the overall winner and runners-up in the Willesden Herald international short story competition 2016, and shares her responses to each of the stories. In the audience were all but one of the writers whose stories were short-listed, including some who travelled from as far away as Italy, France and America.

Towards the end of the video, it becomes clear which story has taken first prize, and we proceed to the presentation and a charming acceptance speech.

And the winner is…

First prize and the one-off mug, inscribed “Willesden Short Story Prize 2016”, and Champagne goes to Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg.

Katy also announced equal runners-up, receiving consolation prizes:
The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival by David Lewis
Undercurrents by Gina Challen

In accordance with the rules, the prize fund of £750 was divided equally among the finalists, who also received two copies each of the anthology.

Here is Miranda Harrison, reading from the opening of Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg.

To find out who really sent the text, and what happens in the end, you will have to read Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 9. Available from Amazon.co.uk (for UK, Ireland and Europe) and Amazon.com (US and rest of the world) and other online booksellers.

The ten best short stories of 2016, are presented in the random sequence in which they were originally read, as good a system as any!, and together present a pleasing selection of contemporary fiction.

Winning Stories: Undercurrents by Gina Challen; Twisted by Tracy Fells; Looking for Nathalie by Susan Haigh; All That Remains by Rob Hawke; The Volcano by Anna Lewis; The Mayes County Christmas Gun Festival by David Lewis; The Cliffs of Bandiagara by Catherine McNamara; Supersum by Barbara Robinson; Last Call at the Rialto by Daniel Waugh; Love and Hair by Olga Zilberbourg

Love and Hair

I’m delighted to report that my story “Love and Hair” won Willesden Herald’s International short story competition. The award ceremony took place in London this week, and I took home the coveted prize: a large mug and a bottle of campaign. The story appears in an anthology, New Short Stories 9, together with nine other short-listed stories. I’ve been reading the anthology, and I’m so impressed with the competition.

Here’s the snippet from my story. The print anthology is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

The stage crew had been drinking since The Wizard of Oz Singalong the night before and now the director, suffering from a sinus infection, was losing her voice, pleading over the phone with actors calling in sick. This was a radical departure from the spirit of fun and camaraderie I’d expected when I volunteered to perform in an amateur production of The Vagina Monologues. During our final run-through just hours before opening night curtain, we were three actors short and had to find substitutes. I’d recruited half a dozen of my friends to buy tickets—and what if any of them actually showed up? The lack of professionalism embarrassed me.

As the rehearsal finally got underway, my phone buzzed. The house manager turned to me and hissed, animal-like, “What’s that?” She’d been getting on my nerves all afternoon, having berated me for bringing a burrito into the theatre and for daring to eat it while she talked to us about emergency exits. I ignored her and looked at my phone.

A text message: “I’m in San Francisco.” My new phone failed to decode the number, but I had a good feeling the text came from this girl Hana, an Israeli who lived in Portland.

“Great,” I texted back, “I’ll see you after the show.”

On the first night I’d met her, Hana put her hand on my shoulder, gripping firmly, and said, “You look so Russian, Yelena. I’d love to seduce you.” Then she toasted me with whiskey and walked away.