I can hardly believe that we’re working on the third volume of Surreal South: an Anthology of Short Fiction. The series started when a writer/editor at Press 53 asked Pinckney if he’d be interested in writing a craft book for them. When Pinckney told her that he had an idea for a collection of surreal fiction instead, she and Press 53 said we could give it a shot.
Surreal South 2007 submissions were by invitation-only. We weren’t trying to be sniffy or exclusive by not opening up submissions–we just didn’t really have a good platform for explaining what we were looking for. We begged and borrowed some amazing work for SS ’07. It had stories and poetry by heavy-hitters like Robert Olen Butler, William Gay, Joyce Carol Oates, Ron Rash, Andrew Hudgins, Rodney Jones, Daniel Woodrell, Tom Franklin, Lee K. Abbott, Julianna Baggott, and George Singleton. Several talented then-newbies, too, like Ben Percy, Kyle Minor, Ann Pancake, and Brad Vice. Wow–Looking back, we really were damned lucky, weren’t we? I’d venture to say that no more than four or five of those people had ever been anthologized together at one time before that volume. Probably because they are such diverse writers that no one would have thought to do it.
If you look at those stories and poems together, it’s a pretty good picture of the surreal. Life through a warped looking glass. The impossible and improbable taken as a matter of course. Robots, zombies, murderers, aliens. But the writing has to be exceptional. It has to take its subject seriously–even if there are laughs involved.
With Surreal South 2009, we opened submissions up to anyone. And we got a wide assortment of fiction. Some of it brilliant. Much of it puzzling, and not at all surreal. But we found some real gems, and gave a few people their very first publications. Some of the stories were downright gritty. Most pleasing of all, we had many stories that crossed genres. It was one of our goals in the very beginning to break down genre barriers, and we were getting closer.
Surreal South ’11 busts down genre walls. The crime and sci-fi and horror and literary genre stories stand side-by-side as just damned good stories.
Here’s the list of contributors:
And if I might be so bold to suggest…if you want to get a little surreal in the meantime, both Surreal South ’07 and ’09 are available from Press 53, Amazon, and other fine book purveyors.
Really. I can’t wait!