READING MATTERS: New “Best Small Fictions” Series & Deepdene List of 20 Top Lit Journals for Small Fictions


New “Best” Series,  Stuart Dybek, Guest Editor,  &

20 Top Lit Journals for Small Fictions

THE BEST SMALL FICTIONS, Queens Ferry Press, Plano, TX, is a new annual for afficondados of very short fiction–sometimes very very short fiction.

Like the annual collections of The Best American Essays, started in 1986, and The Best American Short Stories, started in 1915, work included in The Best Small Fictions is selected from the “best” writing published the previous year.  Selections are first made by the series editor, with the guest editor making the final choices.

Robert Owen Butler was the 2015 guest editor.  The guest editor for the current volume is Stuart Dybek.

From the thousands of small fictions published in 2015, the 100 “best,” as selected by the series editor, were handed off to Dybek and, in a process known as “blind judging” (i.e., the identities of the writers are kept secret from the judge), Dybek judged the 45 small fictions included in the 2016 anthology to be the best.  (A list of semifinalists appears at the back of the book.)

From reading the first two volumes of what promises to be an ongoing series, I gained a new appreciation for the small fiction form, and I think you might too.  These fictions are imaginative and polished.  To get a good feel for the form and to see which lit journals are publishing work good enough to be included among the “best,” read The Best Small Fictions 2015 and The Best Small Fictions 2016.

NOTE:  I also highly reccomend Vol.17, No.3, of Five Points: A Journal of Literature & Art. This particular issue is dedicated to flash fiction, and it is simply outstanding.


  1. Flash Frontier                           (5 publications/mentions)

  2. SmokeLong Quarterly             (4 publications/mentions)

  3. Tahoma Literary Review

  4. KYSO Flash

  5. The Stinging Fly                         (3 publications/mentions)

  6. Monkey Business International

  7. Neon

  8. Pleiades

  9. Flash Fiction International      (1 publication/mention)

  10. Rift

  11. Fiction Southeast

  12. Great Weather for MEDIA

  13. Narrative Magazine

  14. Bartleby Snopes

  15. Dime Stories International

  16. Chattahoochee Review

  17. Fissures: One Hundred 100-Word Stories

  18. Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal

  19. Monkey Bicycle

  20. Cleaver Magazine

  • How I rated these journals and created this list: The first criteria was quality writing, and I relied on the judgment of guest editors Robert Owen Butler, 2015, and Stuart Dybek, 2016, for determining this.  To be on my list of best journals for small fictions, the journal needed to be the publisher of one or more small fictions that have appeared in The Best Small Fictions. I then counted how many times each host journal was represented.  I gave the host lit journal a point for each published fiction and a point for each special mention at the back of the 2016 anthology. (There were no semifinalists mentioned in 2015.) …Flash Frontier got 5 points, which put it at the top of my list: it had one fiction in the 2015 anthology and four fictions mentioned in 2016. The next three journals got 4 points, the next four journals got 3 points;  the other 11 journals received 1 point each. The last two journals on the list actually had no stories reprinted in the anthologies but each had a semifinalist at the back of the 2016 anthology.  -m