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2013 Contest

Carleton's Sarah Olson Named Winner of 2013 Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Article posted March 21, 2013

Sarah Olson, a sophomore at Carleton College, has been named the winner of the 41st annual ACM Nick Adams Short Story Contest. Her story "Truth in Lies" was selected to receive the contest's $1,000 first prize by novelist Peter Geye, who served as the final judge for the 2013 competition.

Sarah Olson

Sarah Olson

Professors Steven Hayward from Colorado College and Robert Archambeau from Lake Forest College served as initial faculty readers for the contest, considering 37 stories written by students at ACM colleges before deciding on the six finalists from which Geye made his choice.

Geye is the author of two novels, The Lighthouse Road (2012) and Safe from the Sea (2010), and is the former editor of Western Michigan University's literary journal, Third Coast.

In addition to the winning story, Geye awarded honorable mention recognition to Bryan Hulse from St. Olaf College for his story "Hob Carter."

In commenting on "Truth in Lies," Geye wrote that it is

a story that's as beautifully and as carefully written as the paintings the author describes. I was often reminded of the short stories of Richard Ford while I read, a feeling I relished. But this story is not just style. While it feigns aloofness, it actually packs plenty of emotional punch…. I only wish the story went on for the length of a novel, so I could relish the author's prose for days instead of hours. Bravo!

Read the stories!

First Prize:

"Truth in Lies"

by Sarah Olson

Honorable Mention:

"Hob Carter"

by Bryan Hulse

An English major, Olson is a member of the Carleton Choir and performs with the flute ensemble on campus. She is also passionate about theater and has worked on several productions at the college. Olson said that while stories and writing have always been a huge part of her life, she recently took a course in creative writing which helped her become "more diligent about actually writing things down."

In receiving the award, Olson thanked two Carleton English professors Greg G. Hewett for "his considerable encouragement and talent" while working with her on "Truth in Lies" and Susan Jaret McKinstry for "providing so much support and guidance throughout my time at Carleton." Hewett taught the creative writing course that Olson recently completed and Jaret McKinstry serves as her faculty advisor and mentor.

On April 12, Olson will be recognized, along with winners of other ACM awards, during the ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study in Chicago.

Bryan Hulse

Bryan Hulse

In awarding honorable mention to Hulse, Geye noted that "Hob Carter" is "that rare story that manages to transcend convention altogether. At once folksy and supernatural, its focus on the title character is a study in obsession without being coy or melodramatic. The author manages to make the matter of time both completely irrelevant and one of the central preoccupations of the narrative, a trick I found most interesting, and satisfying, as I found the entire story."

Four other stories were selected as finalists by the faculty judges:

  • "The Mangroves" by Julia Ohman, Knox College;
  • "Have My Cake and Eat It Too" by Hannah Rasmussen, Macalester College;
  • "Anaadar" by Aditi Roy, Grinnell College; and
  • "The Way Things Fall" by Saraiya Ruano, Colorado College.

This is the third consecutive year that a story by Ohman has reached the finalist stage of the Nick Adams Contest. In 2011, she was awarded honorable mention for "The Zoo."


Peter Geye

Peter Geye

Novelist Peter Geye Served as Final Judge in the 2013 Nick Adams Contest

Peter Geye, a novelist and former editor of Western Michigan University's literary journal, Third Coast, served as the final judge and selected the winning and honorable mention stories in the 2013 Nick Adams Short Story Contest.

Geye is the author of two novels, The Lighthouse Road (2012) and Safe from the Sea (2010), both of which are set on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota.

Geye's debut novel, Safe from the Sea, won both the inaugural Indie Lit Award for Fiction and the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Fiction in 2010. Read more


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