Nick Adams Short Story Contest
Each year in the spring, ACM sponsors the Nick Adams Short Story Contest. The contest, named for the young protagonist of many Hemingway stories, was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writers at ACM colleges. A first prize of $1,000 is awarded to the author of the winning story.
Any student currently enrolled with good academic standing at an ACM college is eligible to enter the Nick Adams Contest and may submit up to two stories to their English department. The story need not have been written especially for the competition, but it cannot have been previously published off-campus. Each department selects the four best stories to enter in the competition, which is coordinated by the ACM office.
A small committee of faculty drawn from ACM colleges selects the finalists. A prominent writer serves as the contest's final judge each year and selects the winning story from among the finalists.
Nick Adams Contest final judges in past years have included such literary luminaries as Jane Smiley, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Anne Tyler, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Hamilton, and Stuart Dybek. See the complete list of final judges.
Nick Adams Contest final judges in recent years
2013 - Peter Geye
2012 - Gina Frangello
2011 - Binnie Kirshenbaum
2010 - Alex Kotlowitz
2009 - Audrey Niffenegger
2014 Nick Adams Contest
Prize-Winning Writer Bonnie Jo Campbell to Serve as Final Judge for the 42nd annual Nick Adams Contest
Bonnie Jo Campbell, a nationally-acclaimed author of novels, short stories, and poetry, has agreed to serve as the final judge for the 2014 Nick Adams Short Story Contest. Campbell is the author of two novels, Once Upon a River (2011) and Q Road (2003), two short story collections, American Salvage (2009) and Women & Other Animals (1999), and a book of poetry, Love Letters to Sons of Bitches (2010). She is also the co-editor of Our Working Lives: Short Stories of People and Work (2000).
Bonnie Jo Campbell
In a press release in Book Trade, Clare Smith of HarperCollins UK extolled Once Upon a River as "an extraordinary read which achieves that rare feat of matching lyrical writing with a narrative urgency and strength that demands the reader's attention."
American Salvage examines working class characters trying to survive in the 21st century. In a starred review in Booklist in 2009, Donna Seaman noted that American Salvage was a "story collection of rare impact" and "these fine-tuned stories are shaped by stealthy wit, stunning turns of events, and breath-taking insights."
In 2011, Campbell was named a Guggenheim Fellow. She won the ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year award for short stories in 2009 and was a finalist for both the National Book Award in fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, all for American Salvage. Her short story The Smallest Man in the World won Campbell a Pushcart Prize in 2001.
2013 Nick Adams Contest
Carleton's Sarah Olson Named Winner of the 2013 Nick Adams Contest
Sarah Olson, a sophomore English major at Carleton College, was named the winner of the 2013 Nick Adams Short Story Contest. Her story "Truth in Lies" was selected to receive the contest’s $1,000 first prize by novelist Peter Geye, who served as the final judge for the competition.
In commenting on “Truth in Lies,” Geye wrote that it is "a story that's as beautifully and as carefully written as the paintings the author describes…. I only wish the story went on for the length of a novel, so I could relish the author's prose for days instead of hours. Bravo!"
In addition to the winning story, Geye awarded honorable mention recognition to Bryan Hulse from St. Olaf College for his story "Hob Carter."
- Read more about the 2013 Nick Adams Contest and the authors, plus links to the winning and honorable mention stories!
More information about the Contest