Black Lawrence Press
July 24, 2019

2019 Hudson Prize Winner :: Gwendolyn Paradice

We’re so pleased to announce that we have chosen a winner for the 2019 Hudson Prize. A big, heartfelt congratulations goes to Gwendolyn Paradice for winning the prize with her short story collection More Enduring for Having Been Broken. Congratulations also go to this year’s finalists and semi-finalists. Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2018 Hudson Prize!

Gwendolyn Paradice is hearing impaired, queer, and a member of the Cherokee Nation. Her writing has earned nominations for both the Pushcart and Best American Essays, and her nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have appeared in Assay, Crab Orchard Review, Brevity, Fourth River, Booth, and others. She retains a MA in Nonfiction from the University of North Texas, an MFA from Bennington College, and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Missouri, where she lives with her partner. When she’s not weightlifting, playing video games, or trying to read all the books she’s amassed, she writes speculative fiction, nontraditional nonfiction, and bends genre.


Excerpt from More Enduring for Having Been Broken


From “Doomsday Night Live”

Ten years ago, when the rapture started, some of the best comedians were left on earth. Doomsday Night Live was good then, but now the skits feel recycled and canned. Now it is hard to find good actors. Now it is hard to find anyone with any sense of humor.

The apocalypse will do that: bring you down. Most of the time Brigit wishes her mother had been willing to wait it out because it hasn’t been as bad as people thought it would be, not sudden and overwhelming. Sudden and drawn out is more like it. Life continues on, even when the world is ending.

*

Brigit has only dreamed of her mother once since she died. In the dream, her mother was still alive and worked in a petting zoo. She was preparing the animals for their rapture.

            “Mom,” Brigit said, “this is absurd.”

            Her mother was telling the baby goats about how they had been there—not them specifically, but their ancestors—at the birth of Jesus Christ.

            “This isn’t even you,” Brigit complained. “You don’t believe in God.”

            Her mother put her hands over one of the kid’s ears. “Hush, they’ll hear you.”

            “Mom, they don’t understand words.”

            “Maybe you just don’t understand goat,” one of the animals bleated.

            “Mom, come on. We have to go.”

            “Go where? Where is there to go other than….” Her mother looked up and Brigit looked too. They were in a high-ceilinged barn and the slats of wood were far enough apart that Brigit could make out the stars and the moon. It had been a long, long time since she’d seen them.

            “Sit down,” her mother said, “and wait with me.”     

            “Wait for what? Mom, this isn’t right.”

            “Everything is right. Everything is exactly as it should be. Let’s just wait together, you and I and the goats.”

            But Brigit didn’t want to wait for the rapture of the goats. If people lost their clothes then perhaps the goats lost their wool, or worse, their skin, and suddenly, Brigit was frightened of what she might see.

            “I do wonder,” her mother said, “what happens. It doesn’t make any sense, you know.”

            Brigit knew it didn’t make any sense. She remembered how the woman who stocked the soft drinks at the gas station was raptured. How afterward the guy at the counter said she was lucky because she’s been stealing shit for months and the manager was about to come down on her.

            “Did I ever tell you about my sister?” Brigit’s mother asked.

            “Tell me what?”

            “Did I ever tell you about what she did in high-school? The senior class prank?”

            “Mom we really don’t have time for this.” The goats were beginning to glow.

            “That poor goat. That poor girl.”

            “Mom!”

            The goats were beginning to float. They did not become undone. They made loud noises as their legs dangled awkwardly on the slow ascents.

            “You never really know people, do you,” her mother asked, letting go of the goat struggling in her lap. “Do you know what I always thought was funny? All these people debating the end of times. All these people thinking the rapture is some great thing, being taken up into heaven. You know, centuries ago people thought the end of days would result in heaven on earth. If that’s true, where is everyone going?”

            “I don’t know, mom.”

            Brigit’s mother was beginning to glow too. The cloth of her dress was unfolding. “Satan is a tricky bugger,” she said.