The After Coetzee Project: A Call for Short Fiction
Deadline to Submit: December 1, 2013
Until Disgrace, The Lives of Animals, and Elizabeth Costello and other works by J.M. Coetzee, nonhuman animals figured in contemporary fiction primarily as metaphor, allegory, and objects of blood sport. Their worlds — their lives — had been elided. Coetzee’s work prepared the ground for the animal subject to reemerge in fiction*. The After Coetzee Project picks up from there.
The After Coetzee Project seeks short story submissions of up to twenty-five double-spaced pages for a print anthology. We seek stories that explore the worlds animals inhabit; depict non-dominion-based relationships between humans and nonhuman animals; deflate speciesist paradigms; enact the dismantlement of technologies of slaughter and confinement; and etc. So many possibilities exist for reimagining and reinviting animals back into the fictional space.
Because the namesake of Elizabeth Costello lectured so compellingly about nonhuman animals, it might be tempting to interpret these guidelines as inviting sentimentality and bald polemics. But if Coetzee’s work prepared the ground for the animal subject to reemerge, The After Coetzee Project wants fiction that engages those animal subjects. Stories that merely talk about animals — even those that feature virtuous activists “saving” them — would likely read as regressive.
Having said all that, we want to be careful to note that there always exceptions; convince us. In the short story The Transfiguration of Maria Luisa Ortega, for instance, animals are symbolic, but they are symbolic in a parable that’s about rejecting pillars of Western thought — science and religion — in favor of the nonhuman.
Above all, TACP seeks stories of nuance and depth. Moments of unbridled beauty and levity as well as moments of gravity and pathos. And innovation — all kinds of fictional approaches are welcome, but especially variants of weird fiction and hybrid narratives (e.g., Hilary Mantel’s French-Revolution novel A Place of Greater Safety). We look forward to your amazing forays into this terrain.
Please submit stories as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org and include a short bio in the body of the email.
*There are exceptions here and there. But Coetzee’s work sustains themes about the importance of nonhuman animals, both as subjects-in-themselves and as beings with whom we are interrelated.