Equipped to Lead and Succeed

First-time Fiction Writer Wins Pushcart

by Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications

USF history professor and first-time fiction writer Taymiya R. Zaman has penned a winner with her satire about an uber-competitive and sometimes scandal-plagued American subculture that many readers will know well—academia. Her short story, “Thirst,” just won a prestigious Pushcart Prize, putting it among the best short stories of the year.

It started as an exercise

“Thirst” started as an exercise in a fiction-writing workshop Zaman was enrolled in for fun. When she was asked to write about a subculture she knew well, graduate school came to mind. 

“The characters in the story are busy theorizing themselves out of real life. Despite their cerebral acrobatics, they are still susceptible to human emotions like lust and envy, and the only way they can cope is by theorizing some more,” Zaman said.  

She found a new voice

While she drew on her experiences as a doctoral student for background, “Thirst” was mostly about escaping her South Asia and Middle East studies teacher voice and trying on new personalities, Zaman said. 

Pushcart Prize winners are chosen by Pushcart Press editors from submissions by independent magazines and book publishers from around the world. The winners’ short stories, poems, essays, and memoirs have been re-published in the press’ annual anthology every year since 1976.

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