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Story by Carleton junior Catherine Johnson takes Nick Adams 2019 honors

Published: April 12, 2019

Story by Carleton junior Catherine Johnson takes Nick Adams 2019 honors

Contest judge Audrey Petty wrote that Catherine Johnson’s story Coming of Age in the Modern Midwest "achieves an electric sense of place."

Coming of Age in the Modern Midwest has been selected as the winning story in the 2019 Nick Adams Short Story Contest sponsored by the ACM.  Catherine Johnson, a junior at Carleton College majoring in political science who is from Galesburg, IL, will receive the $1,000 prize.

“In Coming of Age in the Modern Midwest, the author achieves an electric sense of place," final judge Audrey Petty said.  "The action of the story—the heart of the story—is the annual summer carnival in a small Illinois town. With tenderness and inquisitiveness, the narrator (and hometown girl) returns again and again to the event and the adventure of this summer gathering.”

Honorable Mention: Hanna Brown

Hanna Brown

Brown, a past Nick Adams finalist, received honorable mention for Ad Space

Petty, the distinguished author of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing, wrote that Johnson’s story, also gave honorable mention recognition to Hanna Brown, whose hometown is in Elgin, IL, for Ad Space.  Brown is a senior at Beloit College who is majoring in Creative Writing. “Ad Space is a story of considerable power and precision. Bodies matter in this narrative,” Petty said. 

In selecting this year’s winner, Petty was impressed with all six of the finalist stories in the 2019 contest.  “The reading was a pleasure; the choosing—on the other hand—was quite difficult,” she noted.  “All of the finalist stories are extremely compelling. The range of style, vision, situation, conflict, and form within the finalist portfolio is formidable and impressive.”

Professors of English Lise Kildegaard from Luther College and David Wright from Monmouth College served as initial faculty readers choosing the six finalist stories that were sent to Petty for judging.  


Along with the stories by Johnson and Brown, the finalists included:

  • Beyond the Mine by Nicole Hebel, Beloit College
  • The Whale in the Basement by Beilin Brower, Cornell College
  • Closure by Mira Braneck, Grinnell College
  • The Bird Woman by Abigail St. John, St. Olaf College

Notably, Hanna Brown and Nicole Hebel have previously been finalists in the Nick Adams Short Story Contest.  Brown was a finalist three times and awarded an honorable mention twice, in 2017 and 2019.  Hebel was a finalist in 2018 and 2019. 

Read the 2019 winning story, Coming of Age in the Modern Midwest

Read more (including links to several of the stories)

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