2017 Sullivan Prize Winner
Kellie Wells has been awarded the 2017 Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction for her story collection God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna.
Kellie Wells is the author of three books: Compression Scars, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Prize, Skin, and Fat Girl, Terrestrial. She is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Award, the GLCA New Writers Award for Fiction, and the Baltic Writing Residency. Her fourth book, God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna, received the Sullivan Prize and is forthcoming from Notre Dame University Press. She is an associate professor at the University of Alabama and teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University.
Winner of the Sullivan Prize for Fiction, the stories in God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna are populated with the world’s castoffs, cranks, and inveterate oddballs, the deeply aggrieved, the ontologically challenged, the misunderstood mopes that haunt the shadowy wings of the world’s main stage. Here you will find a teacup-sized aerialist who tries to ingest the world’s considerable suffering; a lonely god growing ever lonelier as the Afterlife swells with monkeys and other improbable occupants; a father fluent in the language of the Dead who has difficulty communicating with his living son; and Death himself, a moony adolescent with a tender heart and a lack of ambition. God-haunted and apocalyptic, comic and phantasmagorical, these stories give lyrical voice to the indomitability of the everyday underdog.
It’s all about scale, these transformative and transforming fictions by the professional protean Kellie Wells. These stories, before our screwed up, screwed tight eyes, ratchet and zoom by powers of ten from the micro- to the telo-scopic and incorporate colors outside the range of sight, stimuli beyond the thresholds of our numb and numberless senses. The tales of God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna disturb, distort, derange, delight. Mad Italianate visionaries—Calvino, Fellini, Galileo—are let loose, unbounded and bountiful, on the flat flat vernacular graphing paper of the American Middlewest. This work is universal and individually intimate, horizontal and vertical, containing multitudes and more. Here are all the tiny sweet nothings beyond our reach and all the viruses infecting our microbes in the invisible dust beneath our fingernails. Hang on! Let go!
Author of Michael Martone and Winesburg, Indiana
In Kellie Wells’ brilliant, ebullient book you’ll meet animal linguists, sorrow swallowers (descended from the moon, of course) and, yes, the state of Kansas. God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna teems, it erupts, it jives, it makes you cry and sigh and laugh, then cry again. Read Wells when you want to be reminded of all the form is capable of, then read her again for the pure pleasure of her wondrous prose.
Author of A Highly Unlikely Scenario, Or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World and Good on Paper
Ms. Wells is the only writer currently residing on earth who can be trusted to write serious fiction about God, death and the suffering body – to say nothing of Little Miss Time – as adorable cartoon characters. Her language is at once fey and surgically precise. She is a philosopher who mines and undermines the commonplaces and popular ideas of her day like a news-addled mole wearing a diamond headlamp. She frolics, weeping, in the unendurable. She scouts the metaphysical rubble of an unreliable civilization armed with only a pencil, yet covers vast distances. She is a jeweler, the kind who tweezes pupils into eyes and harvests necessary poisons from the fungi that grow under executioners’ toenails. She is one of a kind in her generation, maybe in any generation, and should be as famous as Isadora Duncan and Annie Oakley, whom she somewhat resembles.
Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule
"A Kellie Wells sentence is a living thing, beckoning, leading, cajoling you to follow wherever it might lead—and why not go where it goes? After all, Wells is a brilliant weaver of worlds both known and unknown, able to conjure the heights of the extraordinary and the wondrous as easily as she maps out our home territories, and her every story is alive to new possibilities of hidden glamour, startling beauty, necessary hope."
Matt Bell, author of Scrapper