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The Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award.


UPDATE: Submissions are now closed
for the 2012/2013 Award.

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When Amanda was writing the stories that would become her first collection, Circling the Drain, she worked a number of ridiculous jobs to make ends meet. (At one point she was writing copy for television ads for newspaper tabloids.) Her second published story, “Fat Ladies Floated in the Sky Like Balloons,” appeared in the second issue of McSweeney’s and was everything we were looking for in fiction—it was bold, funny, experimental, lyrical, and ended without any conventional sort of resolution. She was at her best when she was at her most brave. Her first novel, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, concerned a teenage girl who leaves high school under cloudy circumstances and joins the circus.

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This memorial award is intended to aid a young woman writer of 32 years or younger who both embodies Amanda’s personal strengths—warmth, generosity, a passion for community—and who needs some time to finish a book in progress. The book in progress needn’t be thematically or stylistically close to Amanda’s work, but we would be lying if we said we weren’t looking to support another writer of Amanda’s outrageous lyricism and heart.

Applicants should send a work in progress, between 5,000 and 40,000 words, and a short statement of their financial situation via submishmash: You may list any and all ridiculous jobs performed to facilitate your writing. The reading group will consist of McSweeney’s editors and a handful of writers and readers close to Amanda.

This year we will require a submission fee of $20. This can be paid through submishmash and your PayPal account. We only have so much money to offer, but we don’t want to see the contest end after this year and this fee will allow us to offer the award for years to come.

You can submit your work to

While we prefer electronic submissions, if you’d like to send yours via postal mail, we’ll accept that also. Send your submission, with an SASE and a check for $20 payable to McSweeney’s Publishing, to:

attn: Amanda Davis Fiction Award
849 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

The award of $2,500 will be given in one lump-sum grant, with no strings attached.

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2012 Winner: Rachel B. Glaser
2010 Winner: CJ Hauser
2008 Winner: Shivani Manghnani
2006 Winner: Hannah Pittard
2004 Winner: Jessica Anthony

The first winner, Jessica Anthony, had her novel, The Convalescent, published by McSweeney’s in 2009; the second winner, Hannah Pittard, published her first novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, with Ecco in early 2011.