This anthology celebrates the most recent winners of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, which recognizes twelve writers who have made outstanding fiction debuts in literary magazines. This year’s selections were made by Sabrina Orah Mark, Emily Nemens, and Deesha Philyaw.
The stories in Best Debut Short Stories 2022 explore the dangers and possibilities of protest in Multan, Pakistan, in 1978; in the well-to-do neighborhoods of Melbourne, Australia, at the end of the millennium; and in the outskirts of Ramallah, Palestine, in the present day. They describe toxic homes and precarious lives and refuge sought in unlikely places: a bowling alley, a work affair, a noisy club, a neoclassical sanatorium, a school-turned-hostel near a flooded brownfield. They feature a pork bun made with a perfect spiral of dough, a bucket of eggs swarmed by crows, a drink made of chilled chicken blood and rose water, and a pale pink worm with five hearts who lives at the edge of the universe.
Each story is accompanied by a letter from the editor who first published it, providing insight about what’s new and exciting in fiction today and recognizing the vital work of literary journals in nurturing new voices in literature.