We asked our new fiction editor Gilad Elbom for a statement on the kind of fiction he’d like to see coming to North Dakota Quarterly. While we’ll continue to welcome submissions from across the entire literary landscape, we feel like Gilad will help us explore some territory as vast as the northern prairie.
This is what he told us:
Literary preferences are very subjective. There are no fixed, universal, or objective criteria that we use when we read fiction submissions. In recent or forthcoming issues you will find stories in which the setting is clearly identified, characters are properly named and introduced, the action progresses on a linear axis, and things, generally speaking, are far from confusing. We’re not against that. But you will also find a partially hallucinatory story about an incompetent broomball player, a theologically equivocal story about a Jesuit novice on an Indian reservation, a story from the perspective of a twice-kidnapped boy, a story about sheep in Scotland—from the perspective of a sheep—and a story without syntax. Ultimately, we’re looking for multiple perspectives, different voices, and a variety of approaches to fiction. These approaches can revolve around uncertainty, ambiguity, fragmentation, polyphony, contradictory information, structural experimentation, and all the other things that teachers of freshman composition tell us we must eliminate or avoid. In other words, we value the willingness to treat fiction as textual art and take literary risks. Naturally, there is no guarantee that innovation will yield good results. But when it comes to art, it might be better to fail with something original than to play it safe with a predictable formula.