Writer receives Pushcart recognitionWritten by Lori Golaszewski | | email@example.com
A local author’s short story about her Polish ancestor’s experience at Ellis Island has received special mention in a prestigious anthology of short stories.
“Goldene Medene,” penned by Toledoan Amy Gustine, is recognized in the 2008 “The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses” anthology, an annual collection of the best short stories, poetry and essays published in literary magazines and small presses in the previous year. “The Pushcart Prize,” along with the “O.Henry Prize Stories” and “The Best American Short Stories,” is considered to be the preeminent anthology for short fiction, Gustine said.
“I’m pretty excited as you can imagine,” she said. “To make it into a literary magazine is an accomplishment, and to get your name mentioned in one of the three anthologies every year is quite a step even beyond appearing in the magazine, so of course I was thrilled.”
Gustine said “The Pushcart Prize” accepts thousands of nominations from hundreds of literary magazines, which often receive 250 submissions a week from writers. It can be tough to get published, Gustine noted, because the magazines generally print about 120 stories each year.
“Goldene Medene” was one of only several nominations submitted by Ballyhoo Stories, the New York literary journal that first published the story. Gustine, who has an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, said she didn’t know Ballyhoo nominated her, and only found out two weeks ago that she was listed in “The Pushcart Prize.”
“I had no time to work up any expectations,” she laughed.
“Goldene Medene” focuses on Gustine’s “feisty great-great-grandmother, who avoids being sent back to Poland from Ellis Island by outwitting authorities who consider her unfit and chalk an ‘X’ on her back, intending to deny her admittance to the U.S.,” Gustine explained. “Though she can’t speak English, she knows ‘X’ is no good in any language and before she reaches the next checkpoint, she wipes off the mark and turns her shawl around to cover the smudge.”
Gustine, who has written other stories about the experiences of her Polish and Hungarian relatives, said her Polish father recounted her great-great grandmother’s story to her. She said he is both pleased and humbled by her Pushcart honor.
“My father feels gratified and a little self-conscious,” Gustine said, “because when you write about family, it’s a strange feeling to see fictional versions of your stories start to appear for everybody to read. But he’s proud of his heritage.”
Gustine’s fiction has appeared in other literary journals such as the North American Review, Black Warrior Review, Natural Bridge and River Oak Review. She is currently working on a novel.
“Goldene Modene” is available for reading on Gustine’s Web site at http://web.mac.com/amygustine.