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And the winner is...

Congratulations to the WINNER of our 2021 fiction contest winner, Christopher Berardino! His short story, “Dog Bait,” was chosen by finalist judge Porochista Khakpour.

The following is a statement from the finalist judge on why this piece stood out to her in the selection process:

"This story operates so well on so many levels--it tells a tale that is sadly all too ignored and erased in American history: the mistreatment of Japanese Americans on all tiers of society. Here we get a haunting glimpse at the stakes in the military. But the sociopolitical is not the only level at which this story excels: it is simply stunningly written. It does not shy away from the grotesque, the unspeakably dark and inhumane. I don't think I will ever think of a dog bark the same--it's as if the echoes in this story have bled into my real life. It's rare to find a story after which you are never the same, but 'Dog Bait' does this with its combination of brutal honesty, profound heart and soul, and mesmerizing skill. There is a universal pain at the core of this that I have rarely ever seen articulated with such power."

Christopher Seiji Berardino is a writer of Japanese-American descent from Orange County, CA. He received an MFA in Fiction from Cornell University in 2018. His work has previously appeared in Flash Fiction, The Copperfield Review, Pilgrimage, Every Writers’ Resource, Newfound, The Pinch, and others.

Here's what Christopher shared with our editorial staff upon receiving the news:

"'Dog Bait' has been 4 years in the making, undergoing everything from cosmetic edits to drastic overhauls more times than I can count. It was such a difficult story to write (I am a huge dog lover!), but it was one I felt was incredibly important."

You can read the winning story and more in our upcoming Issue 29, which will be released in mid-January 2021.


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