April 4, 2011
After months of reading through more than 4,000 of your short stories, we have a winner in Round 6 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest.
That's our regular contest where we ask you to submit an original short story that can be read in less than three minutes.
For Round 6, we asked you to send us original works of fiction with two requirements: At some point in your story, one character had to tell a joke and one character had to cry.
Those rules came from our judge for this round, novelist and short-story writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She's the author of the critically acclaimed books Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. Students at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the faculty and students from NYU's creative writing graduate program helped us read every one of the entries we received.
And the story that topped them all? It's "A Saint And A Criminal," by Lauri Anderson of Lubbock, Texas.
"When I started to read this, there was sort of an immediate sense of a writer who was sure," Chimamanda tells All Things Considered weekend host Guy Raz.
"I thought that it was well done in the way that things were left unsaid, but that the unsaidness of these things propelled the story and kept the interest of the reader," she says. "Also I thought the characters were very richly drawn."
Anderson, a graduate student in creative writing at Texas Tech University, says she had the ideas for the story tumbling around in her head, but wasn't sure what form they would take.
"Really, all I had was a handful of scenes, and I guess it worked out," Anderson says with a laugh.
Anderson says her story is about "two people who are in these prescribed roles, and they don't really know how to get out of them."
She leaves the reader guessing at the end of the story. "I ended that way, sort of on the verge of something, because that's a little bit more interesting to me," she says. "I guess the moment before the decision is made seems sort of rife with complication and emotion that maybe the climactic moment isn't."