Nigerian writer and Brittle Paper Staff Writer Chukwuebuka Ibeh has been announced runner-up winner of the 2021 J.F Powers Prize for Fiction for his short story Miracle, about a young Nigerian woman grappling with childlessness and a failing marriage, exploring themes of faith, hope, and shared trauma from a recent tragedy.

The annual award is conferred by catholic literary magazine Dappled Things and presented to any short fiction that has “one foot in this world and one in the next.” The 2021 edition received over 400 submissions from which 26 writers from all over the world were shortlisted.

The first prize (valued at $500) went to American writer Lance Nixon for ‘Father of Lies’. For his second-place win, Chukwuebuka will receive a cash award of $250. Both stories, along with selected honorable mentions, will be published in the next issue of Dappled Things.

We’re super proud of our own Chukwuebuka Ibeh who only last year became the youngest writer ever to be shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship. We are in no doubt that these feat signal the blooming of a future stellar career.

On ‘Miracle,’ fiction editor Natalie Morrill said;

“Our very close runner up was “Miracle” by Chukwuebuka Ibeh. One editor remarked that this felt structurally and spiritually reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor, though with a voice and atmosphere all its own. The journey of a desperate wife and would-be mother to a prayer meeting and miracle-worker, hoping for the gift of motherhood, forms the backbone of the story, but the miracle she receives is not the one she expects. We were absolutely delighted by this story, and we’re thrilled to see such excellent work coming to an American Catholic journal from Nigerian authors like Ibeh.”

“I was pleasantly surprised to learn I had been shortlisted for the prize,” Chukwuebuka said. “And to be announced runner-up makes me very happy, particularly because the story in question is one very personal to me, and took a lot of courage of sorts to write. To have it recognized in this manner is very validating.”

Find out more about the prize here.

Congratulations to Chukwuebuka Ibeh!