The 2020 Nelson Agren Literary Award/How to Apply (Prize: $7,250 + more)

Named in honor of Nelson Agren, the American writer who grew up in Chicago and who won the National Book Award for his 1949 novel, for which he is best known, “The Man with the Golden Arm”. The contest is a nationally recognized, awarded to some of the finest original pieces of short fiction in the country, and it is worth over $7,000. This year, the Chicago Tribune is partnering with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The deadline for submission is the 17th of February, 2020.

Who is Eligible to Submit:

  • Anybody who is 18 years or older who is a legal resident in any of the fifty United States and the Columbia.

How to Submit:

  • Submit a short story that is no longer than 8000 words.
  • The story must not have been previously published.
  • The story must be in English and must be double-spaced.
  • The story must be appropriate for publication “in a commercially distributed general-audience publication.”
  • The deadline for publication is the 17th of February, 2020.
  • If your work is ready, submit here.


  • The writer of the winning short story will receive $3,500.
  • There will be five finalists, each of whom will receive $750.
  • The winning piece will be considered for publication in a print or digital edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Good luck.


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