The Story Prize longlist

A harried and depressed mother of three young children serves on a committee that watches over the bottomless sinkhole that has appeared in her Kentucky town. During COVID lockdown, a thirty-four-year-old gamer moves back home with his parents and is revisited by his long-forgotten childhood imaginary friend. A politician running for a state congressional seat and a young mother, who share the same set of fears about the future, cross paths but don’t fully understand one another. A woman attends a party at the home of a fellow church parishioner and discovers she is on the receiving end of a sales pitch for a doomsday prepper.

These stories and more contemplate our current reality with both frankness and hard-earned hopefulness, realism and fabulism, tackling parenthood, environment, and the absurd-but-unavoidable daily toil of worrying about mundane matters when we’ve entered “an era of unknowability, of persistent strangeness.”

“… her eleven stories crackle with the messy, bristly particulars of modern life, and record, with the fidelity of an ASMR track, what the poet Kay Ryan called ‘the small plop ordinary lives make’.… You’ll find eighties ranch houses here, with off-brand Coke going flat on the kitchen counter and working-class folks perched between hope and disappointment. But what you’ll also find is a fresh and invigorating weirdness.… She dashes her realism with fabulism, horror, suspense, satire, even an eighth teaspoon of paperback romance. She doesn’t limit herself. Goddard Jones grabs whatever elements she wants from literature’s periodic table to convey—sometimes mournfully, always vibrantly—what it feels like to be alive at this strange and unsteady moment.”—Garden & Gun
“Erase every qualifier: American, living, southern. Holly Goddard Jones is one of our greatest storytellers—period—and Antipodes is a testament to her continued mastery, wit, and grace. Brimming with unparalleled empathy for their characters, these stories prove, once again, that Goddard Jones knows us better than we know ourselves.”—David James Poissant, author, Lake Life
“As always, Holly Goddard Jones writes like a force of nature; her prose is strong, solid, and full of power. Even more so, her stories are endlessly inventive and witty, showcasing characters who are fully realized and complex human beings holding mirrors up to our own faces—or making us thankful we are not them. Her voice is miraculous in its ability to be singular even while she takes on eclectic premises and themes. Goddard Jones is one of our best writers, and Antipodes is her best book yet.”—Silas House, author, Southernmost
Antipodes is rich with characters whose lives have been upended—by pregnancy or menopause, by aging or love, or even by uncanny world events. Holly Goddard Jones captures her characters’ liminal states with deftness and skill, illuminating their uncertainties, hopes, and deep humanity. These stories are beautifully constructed.”—Kim Edwards, author, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
“Fasten your seat belts and hold on. Holly Goddard Jones is an extraordinary talent and the stories in Antipodes are brilliant, spellbinding examinations of looming threats—sinkholes, floods, illness, assault—firmly rooted in the comfort of routine domesticity. One minute the suspense is terrifying, and the next we are lulled into childhood memory and the miracle of birth. This is a stunning collection by an amazing writer.”—Jill McCorkle, author, Hieroglyphics
“Whether thrown together in bizarre circumstances or handling moments of transition, Jones’s characters feel like real people and make plausible decisions. Their dilemmas embody the paradox of disaster-laden 21st-century life: “everything seemed both precious and already lost.” Fans of Nickolas Butler and Lorrie Moore will find much to admire.”—Shelf Awareness
“A short story has the power to portray a single moment of discovery in the life of a character that, in isolation, may seem insignificant or trivial. Antipodes is a collection of eleven stand-alone stories that boldly capture such moments, supported with strong character-building and generous detail. . . . The collection shows how everyday life can degenerate into disillusionment, leading to a hesitant desire to become someone different. Antipodes portrays such change as hard, scary stuff—the choices that life are made of.”—Southern Review of Books

2022 The Story Prize, longlist

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