FLASH FICTION CONTEST
In support of the UAE’s Year of Reading, the NYUAD Literature and Creative Writing Program has teamed up with Tempo Magazine to co-sponsor a Flash Fiction Contest. The deadline for submissions is 1 April 2016.
“Flash fiction” is a unique genre of storytelling that happens quickly – in a flash. It is a very short, imagined story that instills a sense of surprise, or tension, or mystery, or drama, or all of these and then. . . it’s over. But if it’s well written and conceived, it will stay with readers like a distinct smell or taste: it will haunt them. Flash fiction can have a beginning, middle and end like a traditional short story, or it can drop us right in the midst of a scene, with characters talking and doing things in a way that immediately gets our attention and leaves us satisfied in the end. Perhaps the writer will take us somewhere unusual and unexpected. If it’s done artfully, we will be touched in some way, perhaps even transformed.
- Writers must be currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate university program in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
- Stories must be written in English and make a connection to the idea of SEPARATION.
- Stories will be judged on originality and the quality of the prose.
- The maximum length is 750 words (not including the title and author’s information required below). Any submissions over 750 words will not be considered.
- Submissions should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font.
- A cover page must accompany each submission and should include the title of the story, the writer’s name, address, e-mail address, phone number and the name of his/her university. These items do not count toward the story’s length limit.
- Submissions should take the form of a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) attached to an email sent to flashfictionNYUAD@com with “Flash Fiction” in the subject line.
- The deadline for submissions is 23hrs 59minutes on the 1st of April. Anything received after then will not be considered.
You can download a flyer here. Spread the word.
Good luck and write well!
Flash Fiction is sponsored by Tempo Magazine and by NYUAD’s Literature and Creative Writing Program
[EDITORS’ NOTE: If you missed our screenings of Ellis on the NYUAD campus or would like to see it again, you can download a copy for free from iTunes.]
The short film Ellis directed by the artist JR and starring Robert De Niro pays homage to all of the immigrants who entered the United States by passing through the immigration station at Ellis Island outside New York City.
Ellis Island is the stuff of American history and mythology. From 1892 to 1954, it was the threshold through which millions of would-be immigrants were required to pass in order to realize their American. Located in Upper New York Bay near the Statue of Liberty, it was the busiest immigrant inspection station in the United States, and in its peak years — between 1905 and 1914 — an average of 5,000 immigrants per day were processed by immigration officials on the island.
If you were lucky, you spent just a few hours at the island, before receiving permission to proceed to the mainland. You would have had to answer twenty-nine questions, including your name, your occupation, and how much money you were carrying. (You generally needed around $20 to gain approval — about $430 in today’s money — because the US government wanted new immigrants to have funds to support themselves as they tried to start their new lives.)
Some never made it past that threshold, turned away because they had contagious disease, or criminal records, or seemed to be insane. Some of those who seemed to be sick were sent to the island’s hospital facilities. Many stayed there for quite a while. Some died there.
Today Ellis Island is a museum, but the hospital facilities are still abandoned and in disrepair. The visual artist JR recently mounted an exhibition of contemporary photographies pasted onto the walls of the abandoned building. “Walking around the abandoned hospital on Ellis Island, I could feel the presence of the hundreds of thousands of people who passed through, and of the countless ones who didn’t make it and got turned back.” The exhibition and the short film that it inspired are the artist’s attempt to “to ﬁnd the story behind each person who left his or her country. I want to know what made them leave everything and everyone behind, even when they knew they’d never be able to come back. It takes so much courage.”
ELLIS – trailer from SOCIAL ANIMALS on Vimeo.
This moving short film looks back to the American past but prompts us to think about todays refugee and migrant crises around the world. As JR puts it, “There were immigrants in Ellis a hundred years ago, there are migrants now, and there will be some in a hundred years, so we have to do what we can to try to relate to each individual story.”
[If you’ve seen the film and have thoughts about it, please share them in the comments section below.]
BY LAUREN HORST
“I have a story that will make you believe in God,” an elderly man promises to the fictional narrator of Yann Martel’s fantasy adventure novel Life of Pi.
So begins the story of Pi, who survives being stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days with a Bengal tiger as his only companion. This passage also began “Abu Dhabi Reads,” the inaugural communal reading event sponsored by Electra Street.
On November 1, the NYU Abu Dhabi campus transformed for the evening into a reader’s paradise as more than seventy members of the Abu Dhabi community congregated to discuss Martel’s Life of Pi.
It was a beautiful night under the soft haze of the campus lights and the setting sun, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The five people chosen to start the conversation – of whom I was one – read passages from the novel that they had found particularly provocative, and then posed questions for the rest of the group about everything from whether religion is a cage and whether the story really makes us believe in God, to the importance of re-reading a text and the meaning of the novel’s surprisingly complex ending.
With these initial comments to mull over, the next hour and a half belonged to the audience, who shared their own thoughts and responded to others’ observations on the novel. Looking out at the audience that night, many of whom were holding copies of Life of Pi in their hands, I felt closer to my fellow bookworms in Abu Dhabi than I ever had before. It was as if we were all afloat on the lifeboat of the novel, sharing our experiences as we rowed to shore.
I am what you could call a veteran of community book reads. The California town where I grew up hosted a similar event every year, and every year I would diligently read the book. Annotated book in hand, I and others like me would flock to the local town hall to discuss and dissect together. If anything, those discussions taught me that reading is much more than a private experience between the reader and the book. Reading can in fact be equally rewarding and stimulating when it is shared and discussed among people – part of the power behind “one book, one community” initiatives like “Abu Dhabi Reads”. (You can read more about community book projects at the United States’ Library of Congress page here.)
These thought-provoking discussions that I now believe made me love reading in the first place came to mind again at “Abu Dhabi Reads,” as I listened to the audience members on the lifeboat with me engage the text and one another in discussion. Many loved the book, some hated it, and a handful confided in me that they had not yet read it. Still, everyone in attendance loved reading for the sake of reading, a fact that became clear evident in the discussion. After all, only book-lovers could begin a conversation with the symbolic role of cages in the text and somehow end up debating, “What is truth?”
At the same time, as much as I was reminded of my experiences from past community book reads, “Abu Dhabi Reads” was uniquely the product of Abu Dhabi. When we heard the call to prayer, we paused in the discussion for a few moments, and some members of the audience took the opportunity to pray while others reflected on the discussion. In that moment I was struck by the diversity of the audience, which included both students and faculty, expats and Emiratis, English and non-English speakers. That brief pause in the discussion captured the spirit of “Abu Dhabi Reads:” this eclectic group from all corners of Abu Dhabi had banded together to celebrate reading.
After the fictional narrator is told that Pi’s story will make him believe in God, he says, “That’s a tall order.” Without skipping a beat, the elderly man lobs back, “Not so tall you can’t reach.” Building a community around book-reading no matter where you are can sometimes feel like a tall order. But if the first “Abu Dhabi Reads” is any indication, it’s not such a tall order for Abu Dhabi.
For those who missed the inaugural “Abu Dhabi Reads,” never fear. This event may have been the first, but it will certainly not be the last. If you are interested in joining our reading community, Electra Street welcomes any suggestions of books for the next “Abu Dhabi Reads,” set to take place in spring. Please post suggestions to the comments section of this post or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A PRE-EVENT FORUM
Electra Street encourages those of you who are reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi as part of the “Abu Dhabi Reads” program to share your thoughts and questions with the rest of us. Please leave a question or a thought about the book below.
But … no spoilers please! Don’t reveal how the book turns out in consideration of your fellow readers who haven’t quite finished it yet.
Commenters will be entered in a drawing to win passes for two to the movies. You can use them to see Life of Pi when it opens later this fall (21 November in the USA, 20 December worldwide).
[Image by Yzabelle Wuthrich]