SHORT, VIGOROUS ROOTS: Developmental Stages

Ooligan’s recent acquisition, Short, Vigorous Roots: A Contemporary Flash Fiction Collection of Migrant Voices, is progressing through the stages of the publication process.

This flash fiction anthology examines the experiences of being a transplant in a foreign land and looks critically at what it means to forsake tongues, traditions, and comforts in the hope of starting a new life in another world. These stories push readers to expand their understanding of the world beyond their own front doors.

The collection contains forty affecting works written by several multigenerational immigrant authors from countries around the world, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Cuba, England, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Moldavia, Morocco, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United States, and Vietnam. Regardless of their origin, all share the experience of putting down roots in new soil and examining how adapting to new lives and lands impacts the characters’ understanding of themselves and their community. At a thousand words or fewer, every vignette redefines resilience and the meaning of home; the intensity of each is captivating from the very first line.

With so many individual contributors to this contemporary literary fiction anthology, the Ooligan team has been working with the editors of the anthology, Mark Budman and Susan O’Neill. Short, Vigorous Roots is set to release in February 2022.

The first thing that happens with almost every manuscript that is acquired at Ooligan is a developmental edit. This process looks different for each manuscript, but for Short, Vigorous Roots, which doesn’t have a narrative arch like other Ooligan titles, it was a much simpler process. We simply went through each story in the anthology and organized it into one of four sections, each with its own related theme. The first section, “Past the Limits of the Familiar,” contains works related to the scattering of seeds and their arrival to new soil. The second, “The Change is Slow,” features pieces where the narrator starts a new life on new soil—their rooting into fresh land. The third section, “Inheriting the Earth,” contains pieces that depict the narrator’s growth and ‘success’ in their new location, where they blossom into a new world and reality. The last section, “Tired of Waiting for Home,” contains works related to the narrator’s ‘unsuccessful’ transition to their new reality, either for the better or for the worst, causing their new roots to wither away.

Stories that seemed to comment or focus on the beginning of a migrant’s journey were placed in the first section, while stories that focused on settling into a new place found a home in the second section. The last two sections were harder to sort because each and every story written for this anthology evokes both the incredible triumphs and the devastating loss that accompanies moving away from your home country. Instead of focusing on narrative concerns and plot inconsistencies, this developmental editing round was dedicated to categorizing each piece and making sure the work as a whole flows smoothly for the reader.

We’re so excited to share this beautiful manuscript with you next year!

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