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Submissions are open for our 2024 Unleash Book Prize. More information can be found here.
Ubulembu and Other Stories by J. Eric Smith is a collection of seventeen curious tales exploring the existential nature of being, or not being, human. Sitting on an edgy cusp where historical fiction, magical realism, science fiction, and surrealism collide, this collection transports readers into worlds that may not quite exist, but could, and perhaps should. Crossing continents, spanning centuries, and leaping from the primordial ooze to the stars beyond the stars, Ubulembu and Other Stories offers readers a resonant travelogue from a trip unlike any other, vividly colored and extravagantly flavored, with unexpected delights and devilish detours lurking beyond each and every turn along the way.
J. Eric Smith is a native of South Carolina’s Low Country who lived and worked in 13 different states before settling happily with his wife, Marcia, in Northern Arizona’s Red Rocks region, where he now hikes and climbs more things than he probably should. Smith is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, the Naval Supply Corps School, and the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. After serving for eleven years with the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, he transitioned to the civilian sector as a fundraising professional, communications director, operations manager, and four-time nonprofit executive director, while also managing numerous contract, consulting, and board roles. Throughout his charitable and government careers, Smith continued to work as writer, earning more bylines that he could possibly remember for a variety of alternative newsweeklies, trade journals, nonprofit periodicals, magazines, and newspapers. He was also a digital space pioneer, launching the first version of his long-running website in 1995. A large archive of his articles remains available at jericsmith.com, along with new writing on a wide variety of topics.
Pen/Hemingway NomineeQuick View
Maggie Morris resembles a human. Unknown and unattached, she moves seamlessly through her days, a polished collection of patterns. Her only honest relationship is with the dormant tree outside her Brooklyn loft window. When she unexpectedly runs into her childhood best friend, Dana, a Tsalagi girl who disappeared the summer they turned nine, Dana’s cryptic references about the events surrounding her disappearance launch Maggie down a rabbit hole of questions, not only about that long-ago summer but about who she’s become and why. Magpie explores appropriation and masking as the means through which an undiagnosed autistic woman builds a functional identity, burying her true one in the process. Maggie is difficult, odd, and soulful—in search of not only answers to a childhood mystery but an authenticity she has no idea how to recognize.
Bronwen’s writing and visual art can be found in Meetinghouse Literary Journal, Medium, GRASP, and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. She’s a New York International Fringe Festival Excellence in Directing award recipient, a 2022 and 2023 finalist for the Drama League's Beatrice Terry Residency, a member of the 2022-23 playwriting cohort at The Dramatist’s Guild, and the recipient of a 2023 Goddard Engaged Artist Grant and a Rona Jaffe Breadloaf Scholar Award. She’s a Riggio Honors: Writing and Democracy scholar at The New School and is pursuing her MFA-IA at Goddard Collage in Vermont. Bronwen’s work has been recognized and supported by The Actors Studio, Sarasvati Creative Space, Irondale, The Ross Foundation, The Ailey Center, The Watt Family Foundation, Meetinghouse Literary Journal, Unleash Press, TÉA Artistry, Duke Films, GRASP, The Private Theatre, The Dramatist’s Guild, and The Sundance Institute. Magpie (2022 Unleash Press Book award) is Bronwen’s debut novel. www.bronwencarson.com