Will Boast, author of award-winning fiction and the New York Times bestselling memoir Epilogue, will serve as final judge for the 46th annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
The competition for students at ACM colleges awards a $1,000 cash prize for the author of the winning story. Students can enter the Nick Adams contest by submitting their short stories to the English department on their campus. A faculty committee will choose the finalists and Boast will select the winning story.
This will be Boast’s second time as a participant in the Nick Adams Contest, though in a different role. As a student at Knox College, he was awarded honorable mention in the contest for one of his stories, a recognition that he has called a “milestone” in his development as a writer.
Boast received the 2011 Iowa Short Fiction Award for Power Ballads (2011), his collection of stories drawn from experiences touring and recording with several bands. His debut novel, Daphne, will be published by Norton/Liveright and Granta Books in February 2018.
Epilogue (2014) was a BBC Book of the Week and a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year. In a review in the Los Angeles Review of Books, novelist Nellie Hermann wrote, “It is a truly rare feat for a book to both break your heart and make you wish it wouldn’t end: Epilogue does both. Boast has shown us life as it really is: beautiful, strange, cruel, surprising, and rarely so honestly explored.”
His fiction, essays, and reporting have appeared online and in print in The New Republic, Granta, Virginia Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Magazine, among numerous other publications.
Recently, Boast’s reporting has focused on migration and the intersection of culture and politics, including spirit worship and democratic reforms in Myanmar, nomadic sports and post-Soviet national identity in Kazakhstan, and Gambia’s outsize role in the European migration crisis. His advocacy work is centered around teaching English and college prep workshops at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome.
Currently a full-time faculty member in the writing program at the University of Chicago, Boast has been a Literature Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a Charles Pick Fellow at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
A native of England, Boast grew up in Ireland and rural Wisconsin before attending Knox College in Galesburg, IL.
“Everyone with a literary bent at Knox knew about the Nick Adams Contest, and it was a big deal to even be considered,” Boast recalled. “You know you’re going up against some of the best writers from some very fine schools. One of my classmates (very rightly) won our junior year, and, darn, was I jealous — but also proud for our writing program. The next year I had a bit of luck and got an honorable mention for one of my stories.
“It’s pretty much always a long road to write, really, anything, but there are milestones along the way that give you a chance to celebrate and take heart. That mention was definitely one for me, so I’m doubly grateful to have a chance to judge the contest this year.”
Boast joins a distinguished group of writers who have served as final judges for the contest, including Maya Angelou, Audrey Niffenegger, Larry Heinemann, Bharati Mukherjee, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, Stuart Dybek, and many more.
The Nick Adams Short Story contest, named after the young protagonist of many stories by Ernest Hemingway, was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writing at ACM colleges.