Best Small Fictions

Best Small Fictions

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Best Small Fictions


Best Small Fictions Editors
& Advisory Board 2023

Guest Editor:
Catherine McNamara

Series Editor:
Nathan Leslie

Managing Editor:
Michelle Elvy

Assistant Editors:
Amy Barnes
Myna Chang
Doris Cheng
Charles Rammelkamp

Consulting Editor:
Richard Peabody

Senior General Advisory Board:
Michael Cocchiarale
Kathy Fish
X. J. Kennedy
Clare MacQueen
Pamela Painter
Robert Shapard
James Thomas

Gisele Gehre Bomfim
April Stettner

Founding Editor:
Tara Lynn Masih

Former Series Editors:
Sherrie Flick
Tara Lynn Masih


For inquiries about the Best Small Fictions series, please email Series Editor Nathan Leslie at fictionsnlbestsmall2019 [at] gmail [dot] com.

For distribution and sales questions, please email Alternating Current Executive Editor Leah Angstman at info [at] altcurrentpress [dot] com.

About Best Small Fictions

Best Small Fictions is the first-ever contemporary anthology solely dedicated to anthologizing the best internationally published short hybrid fiction in a given calendar year. Now in its ninth year of existence, Best Small Fictions features the best microfiction, flash fiction, haibun stories, and prose poetry from around the world.

Originally founded by Tara L. Masih, Best Small Fictions is now steered by series editor Nathan Leslie, who has served in this role since 2019. Guest editors have included Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler (2015), PEN/Malamud Award-winner Stuart Dybek (2016), PEN/Malamud Award-winner Amy Hempel (2017), two-time Pushcart Prize-winner Aimee Bender (2018), PEN/Faulkner-nominee Rilla Askew (2019), Sonder Press operator Elena Stiehler (2020), PEN/Bingham Prize-winner Rion Amilcar Scott (2021), and Bridport Prize-winner Elaine Chiew (2022). For the 2023 edition, we’re pleased to welcome Catherine McNamara as the guest editor!

Submission Guidelines

Editors are encouraged to send their five best works of flash and microfiction, haibun stories, and prose poems published in the previous year. Submissions for the 2024 edition will open on November 15, 2023, and run until January 31, 2024, and will consider pieces published in the 2023 calendar year. A submission portal will be available here when submissions open.

We encourage an eclectic array of styles and approaches. We love work featuring memorable imagery, characterization, and language. Submissions should be within 1,000 words; this is an approximate guideline, however, and we ask editors to use their own discretion. Submissions may be submitted as word documents, PDFs, or links to the published work.

Selected pieces will appear in the 2024 edition, and honorable-mention pieces may additionally appear in the online literary journal The Coil. All selected contributors will receive a complimentary PDF and ePUB of the finished anthology, along with a 50% discount for optional print versions.


The 2023 edition will be available in paperback distributed through Ingram, Asterism, and Alternating Current direct; in hardcover distributed through Ingram; and in ebook distributed through Ingram and OverDrive. Ingram’s print bookseller terms are 55% with free returns accepted. Paperback orders direct through Alternating Current are available to booksellers for 50%, free shipping, free returns, with invoicing and purchase-ordering options available. Please email info [at] altcurrentpress [dot] com for more information.

Past Issues in the Series

The 2015 and 2016 editions were originally published by Queen’s Ferry Press and have been reissued by Braddock Avenue Books, who also published the 2017 and 2018 editions. Sonder Press took over publication and published the 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 editions. Alternating Current Press will publish the series from 2023 onward.

Guest Editor

CATHERINE McNAMARA grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write, and ended up in West Africa co-running a bar. Love Stories for Hectic People (flash fiction) won Best Short Story Collection in the Saboteur Awards 2021 (UK). The Cartography of Others (short stories) was a finalist in the People’s Book Prize (UK), and won the Eyelands Fiction Award (Greece). Pelt and Other Stories was a semifinalist in the Hudson Prize (USA) and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award (Ireland). The Carnal Fugues (selected stories) is out in November 2023 in Australia. Catherine hikes, grows cherries, and hosts writer retreats at her farmhouse in Italy.

Series Editor

NATHAN LESLIE won the 2019 Washington Writers’ Publishing House prize for fiction for his collection of short stories, Hurry Up and RelaxInvisible Hand (2022) and A Fly in the Ointment (2023) are his latest books. Nathan’s previous works of fiction include Three MenRoot and ShootSibs, and The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice. He is also the author of a collection of poems, Night Sweat. Nathan is currently the founder and organizer of the Reston Reading Series in Reston, Virginia, and the publisher and editor of the online journal Maryland Literary Review. Previously he was series editor for Best of the Web and fiction editor for Pedestal Magazine. His fiction has been published in hundreds of literary magazines such as ShenandoahNorth American ReviewBoulevardHotel Amerika, and Cimarron Review. Nathan’s nonfiction has been published in The Washington PostKansas City Star, and Orlando Sentinel. Nathan lives in Northern Virginia. 

Managing Editor

MICHELLE ELVY is a writer and editor in Ōtepoti Dunedin, on the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Her books include the everrumble (2019) and the other side of better (2021), and she has recently co-edited, among others, the anthologies A Kind of Shelter: Whakaruru-taha (2023), A Cluster of Lights: 52 Writers Then and Now (2023), Breach of All Size: Small stories on Ulysses, love, and Venice (2022), and Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand (2020). Founder of National Flash Fiction Day NZ and Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction, Michelle also teaches online at 52|250 A Year of Writing. Find out more at

2023 Best Small Fictions Selections

  • “07:15 Fast Local” by Hema Nataraju / Five South
  • “3 Visitations” by Kim Parko / Salt Hill Journal
  • “1,000” by Rob Roensch / Okay Donkey
  • “A Living” by K. A. Polzin / Apple Valley Review
  • “A Man on the Street Offers Me a Cooked Shrimp” by Andrea Frazier / Lost Balloon *
  • “A Mouth Filled with White” by Emmanuel Nwafor / Apple Valley Review
  • “A Succession of Silences” by Electra Rhodes / Books Ireland Magazine
  • “A Theory of Doors” by Kristen Holt-Browning / Hayden’s Ferry Review
  • “An Unrequited Love Letter to the City That Murdered Me” by Phoenix Tesni / Renaissance Review
  • “Anna Walinska” by Arthur Kayzakian / Cincinnati Review
  • “Baptized” by Dan Crawley / Roi Fainéant Press
  • “Between” by Madeline Byrne / Bath Flash Fiction Award
  • “Birthday Portrait, Son” by Valerie Bacharach / Ilanot Review
  • “Blue-Orange” by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar / Pithead Chapel
  • “Calf” by Matt Goldberg / Porterhouse Review
  • “Cheongsam Woman, Still Trapped in the Forties” by Meiko Ko / Longleaf Review
  • “Cherry Pit Dreams” by Ra’Niqua Lee / SoFloPoJo (Southern Florida Poetry Journal)
  • “Chicago” by Kathy Fish / Wigleaf
  • “Deep” by Chloe Yelena Miller / Citron Review
  • “Déjà Vu” by Patricia Garcia Lujan / Atticus Review
  • “Descending Borobudur” by Sara Hills / Scrawl Place
  • “Does the Pig?” by Nick Story / Hex Literary
  • “Dream Daughter under a Moonless Night” by Malvika Jolly / Salt Hill Journal
  • “Dream of the Ploughed Field” by Lisabelle Tay / Sine Theta Magazine
  • “Eddie” by David James Poissant / Ghost Parachute
  • “Every Greener Summer” by Edie Patterson / No Tokens
  • “Fangs” by Tara Isabel Zambrano / Craft Literary Review
  • “Feeding on the Thamirabarani Metro” by M. L. Krishnan / Fractured Lit
  • “Fish Bone” by Renny Gong / Split Lip Magazine
  • “Fish Woman Sea” by C. J. Erick / Brilliant Flash Fiction
  • “Flight Path” by Fiona J. Mackintosh / Flash Flood Journal
  • “Flux” by Patricia Q. Bidar / Newfound
  • “… For a Black Girl” by Janine Blue / The Forge Literary Magazine
  • “For the First Time” by Insha R. Hamdani / So to Speak Journal
  • “For What May Still Be There” by Babak Lakghomi / The Adroit Journal
  • “Four Pages” by Ogochukwu Ogbonna / Lolwe *
  • “Goodwill” by Naomi Kanakia / American Short Fiction
  • “Grave Robin” by Fahad Al-Amoudi / Brunel African Poetry Prize
  • “Guangxi56” by Eliot Li / Atticus Review
  • “Haibun for Learning 中文 on Duolingo” by Saba Keramati / Quarterly West
  • “Heirloom” by Vincent Chavez / Wigleaf
  • “How to Tell a Story” by Hege Lepri / Atticus Review
  • “How Your Life Becomes a Reluctant Endorsement for Little Trees Air Fresheners” by Barlow Adams / The Bureau Dispatch
  • “Hula” by Heidi Turner / 805 Lit
  • “I Saw a Bird Die Today” by Chizi Pswarayi / Kalahari Review
  • “If I Plant You” by Brian Franklin / The Masters Review
  • “If You Want to Be Loved, Love” by Meg Pokrass / Cleaver
  • “In the Museums of Heaven and Hell” by Goldie Goldbloom / Lascaux Review / Bridport *
  • “In This Tale of a Suburban Tiger, the Part of the Mother Is Played by a Bird” by Gillian O’Shaughnessy / Splonk
  • “Intermezzo” by Marie Gethins / Reflex Fiction
  • “Love in the Knots of the Coptic Stitch” by Beth Kephart / The Gravity of the Thing
  • “Love Story” by Kaj Tanaka / Fairy Tale Review
  • “Murder Mermaids Make Mistakes” by Sandra Schmuhl Long / Electric Literature *
  • “Mi Corazón Quiere Cantar Así” by J. J. Peña / Fractured Lit
  • “Monologue to a Tattoo Artist” by Eric Scot Tryon / Cease, Cows
  • “More than a Lion” by Kiran Kaur Saini / The Forge Literary Magazine
  • “Morse Code” by Elizabeth Cabrera / New Flash Fiction Review
  • “My Grandfather’s Riddle” by Michael Martone / Plain Air: Sketches from Winesburg, Indiana
  • “My Sister’s Monkey” by Michelle Ross / Laurel Review *
  • “Necessary Measures” by Gerri Brightwell / Litro
  • “Nesting Dolls” by Meagan Johanson” / Pidgeonholes
  • “Ode to Zheka” by Olga Krause, t. Grace Sewell / Your Impossible Voice
  • “Orangery” by Tola Zysman / The Adroit Journal
  • “Origin of a Face” by Eileen Frankel Tomarchio / Milk Candy Review
  • “Persephone” by Amina Lolita Gautier / New Millennium Writings
  • “Primaries” by Sarp Sozdinler / The Lumiere Review
  • “Rainfall in December” by Kelvin Ikechukwu Kaine / Brittle Paper
  • “Rats and Cats and Snakes” by Dustin M. Hoffman / Necessary Fiction
  • “Rivers” by Avital Gad-Cykman / Barzakh
  • “Say Hi” by Shome Dasgupta / Reckon Review
  • “Scorpion” by Hilal Isler / The Baltimore Review *
  • “Amelia Earhart Knew Seven Latin Words for Fire” by Joe Kapitan / New Flash Fiction Review *
  • “Signs” by Lucie Bonvalet / Sand Literary Journal
  • “Skin and Bone” by Melissa Llanes Brownlee / Astrolabe
  • “Some Humanity Still” by Su-Yee Lin / Quarterly West
  • “Something Tribal This Way Comes” by Moata McNamara / At the Bay | I Te Kokoru
  • “Sorrow Everywhere” by Pamela Painter / SoFloPoJo (Southern Florida Poetry Journal)
  • “Spearing Sturgeon by Torchlight” by Summer J. Hart / Jet Fuel Review *
  • “Still Life with Conch Shell” by Jasmine Sawers / The Anchored World
  • “Summer of ’76” by Sudha Balagopal / The Maine Review
  • “Swooning for Succulents” by Addie Tsai / Alocasia
  • “Tell Me Why It Was Bad to Execute Myself” by Charlotte Hamrick / New World Writing Quarterly
  • “Air Show” by Curtis Smith / JMWW
  • “The Boy from Cave City, Kentucky (A Wreath of Sourgrass) by Jonathan Humphrey / Contemporary Haibun Online
  • “The Day We Watched the Seagull Eat the Eel” by Eve Cantler / WWPH Writes
  • “The Inner Organs of Beasts and Fowls” by Jenna Heller / Breach of All Size: Small Stories on Ulysses, Love, and Venice
  • “The Last Fall” by Linda Grierson-Irish / Flash Frontier
  • “The Many Uses of a Banyan Tree” by Subhravanu Das / Chestnut Review
  • “The Picnic” by Nathan Alling Long / The Masters Review *
  • “The Problem with Mutability” by Charles Rafferty / The Southern Review
  • “The Silence” by Jessica Denzer / West Trade Review
  • “The Sluagh” by Kendra Marie Pintor / Craft Literary Review
  • “The Triaminic Man” by Lorette C. Luzajic / MacQueen’s Quinterly
  • “Things That Won’t Stay Swallowed” by Evan Michael Anderson / JMWW
  • “Three Reincarnation Rituals” by Lilian Liang / Asian American Writers’ Workshop *
  • “To Have Fought” by Devaki Devay / Peatsmoke Journal
  • “To the Shortage of Lifeguards That Will Live in This Rill” by Pat Foran / Pithead Chapel
  • “Togetherland” by Amy Stuber / Okay Donkey
  • “Trout Prince” by Rachel Gough / National Flash Fiction Day Press
  • “Tuesday, Taking on Water” by Virginia Laurie / Capsule Stories: Into the Light
  • “We Beasts” by Will McMillan / Cheap Pop Lit
  • “We Come Easily to the Language of Horror” by James Norcliffe / Flash Frontier | Letter to ‘Oumuamua
  • “We Don’t Say ‘I Love You’ in This Family” by Lucy Zhang / Whale Road Review
  • “We’re Not Weird About It” by Kasey Payette / Waterstone Review
  • “Wishing We Were Anywhere but the High School Swimming Pool” by Alejandra Medina / Capsule Stories: Swimming
  • “wordafterwordafterwordafterword” by Penn Javdan / Bending Genres
  • “Wuthering” by Muhammed Olowonjoyin / Brittle Paper
  • “Yesterday, They Crossed the Elbe” by Jelle Cauwenberghs / Bridport
  • “You Wish This Were a Novel” by Matt Barrett / The Baltimore Review

*Top 10 spotlighted story selections, chosen by guest editor Catherine McNamara.

Praise for the Series

“If you are a writer of any kind, this book is also a must-read because it will only enhance and inspire your own work, particularly through models of stellar openings/endings and meticulous editing.” —JMWW

“Give us succor, these essential stories implore the earth. Give us meaning, they ask the world. We need you and haven’t forgotten you, they say. Forgive us.” —SmokeLong Quarterly

“The best of these fictional vignettes are like a splash of ice water in the face. Wake up, they shout, your life is unspooling. They create their emotional effects with a quick windup and a powerful release, often a final, lingering image.” —Harvard Review

“[T]he beauty of an anthology such as this, pulling together the best of the form, is that you will always encounter something new, something different, something that pushes the boundaries of flash further than before. If this anthology proves nothing else, it is that small fiction in all its forms continues to go from strength to strength, as does the series itself.” —Bath Flash Fiction Award

“The fifty-five authors represented [in BSF 2015] have all triumphed. They’ve sliced open secret passageways within language and kicked readers toward infinity. Yes, we’ve heard it before about the short form, and yes, it’s true, “Less is more,” though here it could be “Less is” or “More is.” What we’re finding, or re-finding, is simply “It is,” and it’s wonderful.” —The Small Press Book Review

“It will be well worth your while to spend a minute or 60 with some of the brightest concise writing available today.” —NewPages