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The 2021 Adrift Short Story Contest


​We are excited to announce Caroline Bock's "Winged" as the winner of our fourth Adrift Short Story Contest! Here's what our guest judge, Xu Xi, had to say...


“Winged” is a tightly-written and compelling exploration of the meaning of flight for this young, wounded warrior, a Marine patrol leader with a purple heart who no longer wants her men to call her “ma’am.” The slide into the surreal is nicely done and eschews explanation, allowing for a natural surprise by other characters in the still-realistic world of this fiction. Likewise, each relationship in the story feels complete. Hope here truly is that thing with feathers.

We would also like to congratulate runner-ups Dailihana Alfonseca's "Spanish Soap Operas Killed My Mother" and Chad Gusler's "Sore Vexed," as well as the finalists below. The winner and runner-ups will be published in 2022.


  • "Two Not Touch" by Greg Sendi

  • "Eddie's Mom" by Ciaran Cooper

  •  "Different Roads" by Eros Livieratos

Lastly, we want to extend our warmest gratitude to everyone who submitted to the contest, including the twelve additional semi-finalists and an thirty-four quarter-finalists. There were hundreds of wonderful short stories sent in, and many of them deserve—and will find—publication. We are ecstatic to continue to publish works of literary fiction that forefront language and take narrative, structural, and thematic risks, and the support of our community of readers and submitters is continually cherished and appreciated. 


  • Submissions will be open from March 1st 2021 to July 31st 2021.

  • Stories are considered by Driftwood editing staff (no outside readers); guest judge reads finalists.

  • Winner will be announced in October 2021.

  • The winning short story will be published in volume nine (2022).



  • Fiction only.

  • 1,000-6,000 word limit.

  • A standard, 12-point font is preferred. 

  • The work must not have been previously published.

  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but
    please withdraw the work if the story has been
    accepted elsewhere.

  • Submit works written in English only, no translations.

  • Please submit your manuscript in a .doc, .docx, or PDF format.

  • We read submissions blind, so please do not include your name, email, or any identifying characteristics on the manuscript itself.

  • Base submission cost is $10. Additionally, we are offering a $25 dollar submission option that will include a print copy of the issue in which the winning story is published.



  • The winner will receive $500 dollars and 10 copies of the issue in which the story appears. The winner will also have the opportunity to be interviewed about their work; the interview will be published alongside the story.

  • If a runner-up is chosen, their work will be offered publication, an accompanying interview, $200, and five copies of the issue in which their work appears.

Past Contest Winners

[2020 Contest]

[2019 Contest]

[2018 Contest]

Guest Judge

XU XI 許素細  is an Indonesian-Chinese born and raised in Hong Kong who has split most of her life between there and New York City. Author of fourteen books of fiction and nonfiction, she is considered one of Hong Kong’s leading writers in English. Recent titles include This Fish is Fowl: Essays of Being (2019), Insignificance: Hong Kong Stories (2018), Dear Hong Kong: An Elegy for A City  (2017) and the novel That Man in Our Lives (2016). Forthcoming is The Art & Craft of Asian Stories, co-authored with Robin Hemley, and with whom she co-founded Authors at Large. In 2020, she established the Mongrel Writers Residence™ as a hideaway for “mongrel” writers like herself.  New stories and essays appear or will appear in Jewish Noir II, The Darkling Halls of Ivy, Looking Back at Hong Kong: an Anthology of Writing and Art, Cincinnati Review, The Letters Page, Massachusetts Review, among others. She is fiction editor-at-large at Tupelo Press, a contributing editor at Speculative Nonfiction and The Letters Page and an advisor to the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.

She has taught creative writing at universities in the U.S. and internationally, and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction MFA, Arizona State University’s Virginia G Piper Center of Creative Writing, the Philippines Writers Workshop at Silliman University, Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and also established and directed the first low-residency MFA in Asia at the City University of Hong Kong.  Prior to teaching she had an 18+ year international marketing and management career. Currently, she co-directs the International MFA in creative writing & literary translation in Vermont.  A diehard transnational, these days she splits her life between the state of New York and the rest of the world. Follow her @xuxiwriter at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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