“We had been looking to publish a fiction story for the first time in a long time, but we were waiting for the right piece,” said Christian Williams, Utne’s editor in chief.
What a year it’s been for Kjerstin Johnson, author of “Employee Discounts” (The Bear Deluxe #34) and winner of the 2012-13 Doug Fir Fiction Award for her story of intrigue and romance inside a suburban Barnes & Noble bookstore. In winning the award, Kjerstin took home a $1,000 cash award, publication and a writers residency at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology on the Oregon Coast. Then, a few weeks after publication, Utne Reader called with a request to reprint her story in their May-June issue and to share the tale with an expanding national audience. “We had been looking to publish a fiction story for the first time in a long time, but we were waiting for the right piece,” said Christian Williams, Utne’s editor in chief. Utne reprinted the story in all its 5,000-word glory and provided their graphic interpretation with introspective illustrations by Alicia Suarez. Readers can find Utne‘s online version here or email us to order the Bear Deluxe #34, to see our version with delicious graphic illustrations by Ana Benaroya.
Kjerstin’s story was selected as the 2012-13 Doug Fir Fiction Award by author Rivka Galchen, who wrote of the story: “Employee Discounts” takes the banalities, details, mediocrities, compromises, baubles, brands and brief beauties of life and makes us see and wonder at them anew. It wakes us up. It’s wonderful.
“Employee Discounts” was Kjerstin’s first published work of fiction. To further build upon her editorial resumé, Kjerstin was named editor-in-chief at Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture in 2012, where she was formerly senior editor and web editor.