2021 St. Lawrence Book Award Winner

We are so pleased to announce that Shubha Sunder has won the 2021 St. Lawrence Book Award with her short story collection BOOMTOWN GIRL. Congratulations, Shubha!

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the 2021 St. Lawrence Book Award and send further congratulations to the finalists and semi-finalists.

Shubha Sunder’s stories and essays have appeared in New Letters, The Common, Narrative Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, Catapult, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and the City of Boston Artist Fellowship. Her fiction has received honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories anthology and been shortlisted for The Flannery O’Connor Award, The Hudson Prize, and The New American Fiction Prize. She teaches creative writing at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and at GrubStreet.





Excerpt from

“Boomtown Girl”


There was no compound wall around the construction site, no watchman to tell the two girls they could not enter. Holding hands, in their blue pleated skirts and white blouses, they scurried behind an idle cement mixer and crouched low. Book bags rustled, tiffin carriers squeaked. Four eyes tracked skyward along the building’s length. Ten stories. A proper high rise, the township’s first. Against the moving clouds the summit glided, black and solid as a ship, and the girls felt themselves gliding with it, borne along, as if the earth itself were carrying them forward.

Inside, the staircase had no bannister. Koo ran to the landing and up the steps, oblivious to the sheer drop alongside. Mal followed. Her feet moved as if through mud. She shied from the naked edge.

They were twelve years old. Classmates. The previous day they’d made a plan, in secret, to come here. Mal had been the one to suggest it. The idea came not to her mind but to her mouth: one moment she and Koo were quarreling over something silly, a charcoal drawing, and the next she was saying, Let’s go on an adventure, in a voice that wasn’t quite her own.

At the top of the first flight a corridor stretched into the distance, lined with open doors. Koo flipped a switch in the wall. Fluorescent tubes flickered before unleashing a harsh, white glare. The floor was white marble, the walls white plaster. Here and there in the white expanse wires sprouted like tufts of black grass.

Three floors up, they entered a room that was weeping. Drops fell from the ceiling. The floor was a shallow pond. Reflections, giant amoebae, rippled across the walls. Koo splashed her way to a glassless window.

“Don’t fall!” Mal cried.

“Come and look,” Koo said.