One Story Issue #287: Omer Friedlander’s “The Miniaturist”

I have a soft spot for stories about unlikely friendships, because they almost always, in their way, end up being love stories. One way to read our new issue, Omer Friedlander’s “The Miniaturist,” is as a love story.

Esther and Adinah are two young girls who meet in 1950, in the newly formed State of Israel, when their families are forced to move into the Ma’abara immigration absorption camp. Living, suddenly, in a community of tents, among thousands of relocated individuals, the girls discover they both share a passion: drawing. Adinah’s ancestors were Jewish text illustrators—known as “miniaturists”—from Catalonia who were expelled in 1492 for not converting. Esther’s ancestors were miniaturists, as well, but conversos, and as she begins to demonstrate her own artistic talent, there are those in Ma’abara who believe she’s the reincarnation of the most famous miniaturist of all—Nissim ben-Tzemach Albarjeloni.

When the girls become obsessed with well-known photographer Shmuel Sassoon, another resident of the camp, and he, in turn, takes an interest in Esther’s talent and her potential status as the reincarnated master illustrator, a rivalry is seeded that will affect Adinah’s behavior and cause her to carry Esther with her for the rest of her life.

In “The Miniaturist,” Omer Friedlander has created a beautiful and conflicted portrait of a friendship that cannot last, and yet lasts. It’s a story of dispossession and disembodiment, and it’s a story of love. We’re delighted to present it to you.

Announcing the Winners and Runners-Up of the One Teen Story Teen Writing Contest

We are thrilled to announce the winners and runners-up of our 2022 One Teen Story Teen Writing Contest! We received over 400 entries from teen writers across the globe, and narrowing it down was no easy feat. Each winner will receive $500 and publication in a forthcoming issue of One Teen Story.

Ages 13 – 15

Winner: “Leftovers” by Zach Miano

“It’s the one day of the week where our entire community seems to forget about life for a while. It reminds everyone of back home. Yesterday we went, but without Papá, it wasn’t the same. Nobody said anything, but I know they all missed him too.”— “Leftovers” by Zach Miano

Zach Miano currently lives in Barcelona, Spain, where he is a sophomore in high school and attends a tennis academy. Born in Rome, Italy, to an American mother and an Italian father, Zach speaks four languages fluently and he often incorporates them into his writing, as they are a part of his voice and identity. In addition to tennis and writing, Zach also plays the guitar and enjoys making short films. His short story, “Leftovers” is part of a collection he is currently working on: each story explores a different perspective of the adolescent male experience in Barcelona.

Runner-up: “Uncaged” by Sophia Pham

Ages 16–17

Winner: “Ten Pounds in Five Days, or Whatever Other Lies We Try to Sell You” by Jenny Hu

“The ancient astrologers were all terrified of the comet. They called the streaking light a

bad omen, a harbinger of great change. You watched it shed its snowy bulk in a flaring tail, your chest still heaving from the trek, and you knew it was beautiful.”— “Ten Pounds in Five Days, or Whatever Other Lies We Try to Sell You” by Jenny Hu

Jenny Hu (she/her) is a freshman at Brown University. An alum of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio and the Adroit Summer Mentorship, her work is forthcoming in or has been recognized by Split Lip, Bayou Magazine, and the New York Times, among others.

Runner-up: “Living Water” by Alexis Yi-Le

Ages 18-19

Winner: “Locker Room Talk” by Elliot Park

“A familiar figure stares back at me, but it’s odd and not very normal at all.”—“Locker Room Talk” by Elliot Park

Elliot Park is an up-and-coming author of short stories and essays. Their work focuses on the complexities of neurodivergent, queer, and transgender identities, and the intersections that exist between them. Elliot is currently attending Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. They live in New Jersey with their family and many pets.

Runner-up: “Crow Boys” by Jessica Peng

Subscribe to One Story or One Teen Story in print or on your mobile device to read the winners’ stories throughout the year. Our next Teen Writing Contest will take place in fall 2022. 

Support our mission to publish great teen fiction writers by donating or becoming a supporting member

One Story Issue #286: Julian Zabalbeascoa’s “A Life Anew”

Our new issue drops us into a hospital run by nuns, in Spain, during the Spanish Civil War. It also places us squarely in the head of a novitiate who’s just been given her new name—a name she intensely dislikes: Sister Jocabed.

Sister Jocabed wants to do well, but in the eyes of the Mother Superior and the other nuns, she is what we, today, would call “damaged goods.” She had a child out of wedlock before taking her vows, and that child was taken away from her. Now, as a novitiate, she tends not only to wounded soldiers but to expectant mothers—and finds herself part of a system that removes babies from young women who are unwed. When one expectant mother, about to go into labor, asks her for help in escaping the hospital, Sister Jocabed is caught in the crossfire of her vows and her sympathies.

As he says in our Q&A, author Julian Zabalbeascoa doesn’t ever set out to write a specific story; instead, he sets out with the intention of discovering a story, and we’re fortunate that this particular discovery of his, “A Life Anew,” has found its way into the pages of One Story. We won’t soon forget Sister Jacobed, and we doubt you will either.

One Story Issue #285: Lydia Conklin’s “Sunny Talks”

Our new issue was discovered and edited by contributing editor Will Allison, so I’m turning the wheel over to him. Steer us on, Will! — PR

In Lydia Conklin’s extraordinary new story “Sunny Talks,” the world knows forty-seven-year-old Lillia as a frumpy, asexual, boyish woman, but in truth, Lillia is nonbinary, inhabiting a middle ground between the genders—a secret they’ve been keeping all their life. The problem is, Lillia doesn’t want it to be a secret, but they’ve never worked up the courage to come out to anyone.

Enter Sunny, Lillia’s exuberant fifteen-year-old nephew. Sunny is also gender non-conforming—a trans boy—and when he invites Lillia to a Philadelphia convention for trans YouTubers, Lillia intends to finally tell him the truth.

But things don’t work out quite as planned. While finding inspiration in the Gen Z kids at the conference, Lillia is also pained by a generational divide. Lillia grew up at a time when you were more or less stuck with the gender you were assigned, whereas Sunny and his peers came along in an era when early medical intervention was an option. In Lillia’s childhood, to be gender non-conforming was to be ostracized, whereas Sunny and his friends celebrate their gender identities with thousands of YouTube followers.

“I’m glad Sunny got hormone blockers,” Lillia says, “[and] I’m proud of my sister for realizing what was going on, for getting him to a specialist before puberty started…[but] sometimes I can’t bear the fact that, if I were born a bit later, all I would’ve needed was injections. That my body never had to bloom into these curves.”

I’ve been an admirer of Lydia Conklin’s work for years, but “Sunny Talks” might be their warmest, most heartfelt story yet. If you enjoy it as much as I hope you will, please keep an eye out for Lydia’s first book, the story collection Rainbow, Rainbow, due out in May from Catapult.

Announcing the 2022
Adina Talve-Goodman Fellow:
Ani Cooney

Together with the Talve-Goodman family, One Story is pleased to announce our 2022 Adina Talve-Goodman Fellow: Ani Cooney.

A UCLA and VONA alum, Ani Cooney is the winner of a PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize and a Manuel G. Flores Prize from the Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and can be found in Best Debut Short Stories: The PEN America Dau Prize, Epiphany, LikeWise Fiction, and ONE Archives

The Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship was created in memory of One Story’s former managing editor, the writer Adina Talve-Goodman. This fellowship offers a year-long mentorship on the craft of fiction writing with One Story magazine, and is given to an emerging writer whose work speaks to issues and experiences related to inhabiting bodies of difference. This means writing that explores being in a body marked by difference, oppression, violence, or exclusion; often through categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, illness, disability, trauma, migration, displacement, dispossession, or imprisonment. Previous winners of the Adina Talve-Goodman fellowship include Diana Veiga, Arvin Ramgoolam and Nay Saysourinho.

Finalists for the Adina Talve-Goodman fellowship will all receive two free online courses with One Story. Finalists for the 2022 Fellowship were:

  • Maria Gabriela Guevara
  • Teresa Pham-Carsillo
  • Caleb Wolfson-Seeley
  • P.S. Zhang

One Story is grateful to the Talve-Goodman Family, our volunteer readers, all of the friends and organizations who helped spread the word about this fellowship, and the many talented writers who took the leap and shared their work with us. Applications for our 2023 Fellowship will open in September 2022.

One Teen Story Issue #68: Ethan Luk’s “The Frame Between Us”

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for us to publish the third and final winner from One Teen Story’s 2020 Teen Writing Contest. With over 450 entrees to read and consider—the most we’ve ever received—our goal was to pick an outstanding story in each age category: 13-15, 16-17, 18-19. The task wasn’t easy because there’s a tremendous amount of talent out there among our teen writers, but tough choices had to be made.

The winner in the 18-19 category is “The Frame Between Us” by Ethan Luk.

This is a story about friendship and loveship, artistic ambitions and insecurities, and those last moments of high school when you feel the world you’ve built around yourself begin to crumble. Nothing gold can stay. Nothing young can stay young forever. And nothing innocent, when pushed out into the world, can remain innocent for very long. Ethan Luk has his finger on the pulse of this massively transitional period in a teen’s life, and he’s written a story that beautifully—and precisely—renders its challenges and its quiet rewards.

We hope you enjoy “The Frame Between Us.” To read an interview with the author, please visit our website.

One Story Issue #284: Rémy Ngamije’s “The Seven Silences of the Heart”

Our final issue of the year was acquired and edited by contributing editor Maaza Mengiste, so the honor of introducing it to you is hers. Here’s Maaza! — PR

It’s not every day that I find myself on unsteady, exhilarating ground when reading a story, but this is what happened when I encountered Rémy Ngamije’s genre-defying and poignant “The Seven Silences of the Heart.” This story is about many things, and I’ll let him explain to you what it means to him. To me, it was an elegy and something altogether new—a genre that evaded categorization to be something wholly its own. I recognized the stories of exile and longing, of grief and love woven through its pages, but there was more, and it was riveting.

What does it mean to be born after a sibling who has died? What burdens and responsibilities do the living carry when walking down a path first forged by the dead? These are some of the questions this story challenges us to consider. Yet, the writer at work in these pages is also irreverent, with a wicked sense of humor and a strong awareness of the fantastical that exists in even the most devastating moments, and that makes this story something distinct.

It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to the striking and powerful writing of Rémy Ngamije, and to “The Seven Silences of the Heart.” What you will find in these pages is a startling and rebellious imagination moving into territory you did not know existed.

To read an interview with the author, please visit our website.

One Story Issue #283: Carrie R. Moore’s “Naturale”

Our new issue was procured and edited by contributing editor Karen Friedman, so I’m happy to hand the mic over to her to make the introductions. Here’s Karen on why “Naturale” is such an awesome story. — PR

“Naturale” by Carrie R. Moore, begins with a betrayal. When we meet the main character, Cherie, her husband has just confessed to an affair. Cherie doesn’t shout or throw her coffee in his face. Instead, she pushes down her anger until she can be mild and pleasant—the woman she thinks her husband wants. Half a page later they’re sharing a bath.

But Cherie is no doormat. As a hairstylist who ministers to her clients, Cherie understands not only the hidden burdens women can carry, but also the potential consequences of their rage. Like so many, Cherie knows that “unlikeable” is the kindest judgement our society passes on an angry Black woman. However, it will come as no surprise to our readers that Cherie’s desire for gentleness cannot force her to forget her husband’s actions.

In exploring the aftermath of a very personal betrayal, Moore pushes us to ask broader questions about our biases and assumptions. How much of our behavior is dictated by the expectations of others? Moore expertly sifts through the layers of gender, race, education, and class with grace and wit, ultimately leading the reader to the conclusion that perhaps forgiveness cannot be found without first allowing anger its due.

One Story is delighted to bring you this expansive story, and especially to introduce you to Carrie R. Moore, an emerging writer of immense talent.

To read an interview with the author, please visit our website.

One Story Issue #282: Puloma Ghosh’s “K”

Last year we were fortunate to be able to bring the omni-wonderful Manuel Gonzalez onboard as one of our contributing editors, and this, Issue #282, is the first that he has acquired and edited for us. With that in mind, I’m turning the reins over to Manuel to make the introductions. Take it away, Manuel! — PR

One Story is extremely pleased to bring you the creepy, unsettling debut story by the über-talented Puloma Ghosh. A perfect read for fall and the oncoming mood of winter, “K” (set on a small, snow-covered, unnamed liberal arts campus in the northeast), features a young woman, Kara, who finds herself sharing a dorm-room with the ghost of a student who disappeared from the same campus some winters ago.

A self-proclaimed liar, an outsider, an orphan, Kara soon realizes that her only true connection might be to the ghostly specter of K who leaves her imprint on the otherwise empty twin bed once occupied by Kara’s roommate. So it should be no surprise that Kara hunts the campus and interrogates her classmates for more information about who K had been, what might have happened to her.

Blending gorgeous prose with a chilling and unsettling sensibility, Ghosh creates an eerie and magical story perfect for the season. We’re happy to welcome you into the stunning mystery of “K.”

To read an interview with the author, please visit our website.

One Story Issue # 281: Ann Aspell’s “Fair Use”

Our new issue was procured by contributing editor Will Allison, so I’m passing the mic over to him to make the introductions. Take it away, Will! — PR

This month One Story is happy and honored to bring you our second debut story of 2021, “Fair Use,” by Ann Aspell. Set in Burlington, Vermont, during a snowstorm, the story chronicles a chance encounter between two characters: Jenks is a struggling painter who was fired from his teaching job at the university—and who lost his girlfriend, Lonnie—in the wake of a plagiarism scandal. Ro is a successful visual artist passing through town en route to New York City after a museum purchased one of her painting for its Canadian collection.

The two characters happen upon each other in a park beside Lake Champlain, and when Jenks invites Ro back to his loft to see his masterpiece-in-progress, one might expect they’ll end up in bed together, or not. What one won’t expect is what actually happens: a stunning, subversive transgression that alters the course of Jenks’s life in ways neither character anticipates.

To reveal any more would be to spoil the surprise (and other surprises to come), so I won’t. But suffice it to say, it’s a delightfully satisfying plot, rendered in confident, precise writing that no doubt benefits from Aspell’s background as a poet. The net result is an entertaining, quietly funny, and deeply thoughtful exploration of what it means to borrow from another person’s work.

To read an interview with the author, please visit our website.