Exploring the art of prose


CRAFT Short Fiction Prize 2023


2023 CRAFT Short Fiction Prize

Guest Judge: Nana Nkweti

$2,800 Awarded


Thank you to all writers who sent short stories to our 2023 CRAFT Short Fiction Prize, Guest Judge Nana Nkweti! We are delighted to publish the winning entries in October 2023. Congratulations in advance to the winners, finalists, longlisters, and honorable mentions!

Send us your best short stories! Submissions are open March 1 to April 30, 2023. Guest Judge Nana Nkweti will choose three stories from a select shortlist of fifteen. We’re looking for short stories that ring with excellence on every level of craft—intricate characterization, meaningful narrative development, and unforgettable voice. We want openings that spark and fire, middles that maintain momentum and tension, and endings that resonate long after we leave the page. We’ll curate the top fifteen entries for Nana Nkweti to review anonymously, and here’s what she’d like to see:

Short stories are for savoring. The umami of a metaphor, well-met. The sweetness of syntax. The bite of characters in conflict with the world and with themselves. These narratives are incredibly self-contained yet offer up a smorgasbord of thoughts and emotions that stick to your ribs. I look forward to reading work that consumes me—with an image, a phrase, an epiphany that will take days if not months to fully digest. Let’s nourish and be nourished in the reading and writing of the works to come.


  • CRAFT submissions are open to all writers.
  • International submissions are allowed.
  • Please submit work primarily written in English, but conceptually or stylistically necessary code-switching is warmly welcomed.
  • We seek short fiction only for this contest: 1,000 to 5,000 words in length.
  • We review literary fiction but are open to a variety of genres and styles—our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft.
  • Submit previously unpublished work only—we do NOT review reprints for contests (including work posted on blogs, personal websites, social media, etc.). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
  • We allow simultaneous submissions—writers, please notify us and withdraw your piece if your work is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • We allow multiple submissions—please submit each piece as a separate submission accompanied by an entry fee.
  • This contest requires a $20 entry fee per submission.
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in CRAFT.
  • Please double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12.
  • Include a brief cover letter with your publication history (if applicable).
  • We do not require anonymous submissions. However, we do anonymize the fifteen shortlisted stories before sending them to the guest judge.
  • Writers from historically marginalized groups will be able to submit for FREE during the first open week (or so) of the contest until we reach fifty free submissions. This free category will close when we reach capacity or on March 10, 2023.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, or for any other reason.
  • Additionally, we do not tolerate discrimination in the writing we consider for publication: work we find discriminatory on any of the bases stated here will be declined without complete review (you will be refunded, less fees).


  • Winner receives $2,000 and a free four-issue subscription from Journal of the Month.
  • Runner-ups receive $500 and $300, respectively, for the second- and third-place finalists.
  • The top three stories will be published in CRAFT, each with an introduction by the guest judge.
  • Each publication will also include an author’s note (craft essay) by the writer.


  • Friends, family, and associates of the guest judge are not eligible for consideration for the award.
  • Our collaboration with editorial professionals in the judging of our contests and the awarding of our prizes does not imply an endorsement or recognition from their agencies/houses/presses/universities/etc.
  • Read our 2022 contest winners for examples of work chosen in the past.
  • As we only consider unpublished writing and will publish the winning pieces in October 2023, anything under contract to publish prior to January 2024 should not be entered.


Photograph is a headshot of Nana Nkweti, guest judge for the 2023 CRAFT Short Fiction Prize.

NANA NKWETI is a Cameroonian-American writer, Whiting Award winner, and AKO Caine Prize finalist whose work has garnered fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Ucross, Byrdcliffe, Kimbilio, Hub City Writers, Stadler Center for Poetry, Wurlitzer Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Clarion West. Her book, Walking on Cowrie Shells, was hailed by The New York Times as “raucous and thoroughly impressive” with “stories to get lost in again and again.” The collection is a Saroyan International Prize shortlistee, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, Indie Next pick, recipient of starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and BookPage; and has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Oprah Daily, The Root, NPR, and Buzzfeed, amongst others. The work features elements of mystery, horror, myth, and graphic novels to showcase the complexity and vibrance of African diaspora cultures and identities. She is a professor of English at the University of Alabama where she teaches creative writing courses that explore her eclectic literary interests, ranging from graphic novels to medical humanities onto exploring works by female authors in genres such as horror, Afrofuturism, and mystery. Find Nana on Twitter @nanankweti.


Image is the green-and-white logo for Journal of the Month.

JOURNAL OF THE MONTH sends a new print literary magazine to your mailbox on a regular basis. Which one? What you receive changes month to month, but every participating magazine is a highly regarded actor in the contemporary literary scene that publishes exciting fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from new and established voices.


You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece directly through the contest submission form. We will provide line-level marginal notes, as well as a two-page global letter discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. While editorial feedback is inherently subjective, our suggestions are always actionable and encouraging. We aim to have feedback completed within twelve weeks. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered and your fee will be refunded. Work that we critique is not eligible for future CRAFT contests. For general information about our Editorial Feedback Platform, learn more here.