Southeast Missouri State University Press

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2018 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel

Southeast Missouri State University Press is pleased to announce that Robert Long Foreman’s manuscript Weird Pig is the winner of the 2018 Nilsen Literary Prize. The prize includes $2,000 and publication of the winning manuscript by the University Press. Weird Pig will be published in October 2020.

Weird Pig is about Weird Pig, a pig who wants to do right. But doing right isn’t always easy. He drinks. He eats pork chops. He rides a skateboard. He gets his fellow farm animals murdered, and fathers an illegitimate son who has a messiah complex. When Weird Pig leaves the farm he calls home, he inspires a series of children’s books that help bring on the end of his little world—a farm where human and beast alike toil in the shadow of an ever-growing factory livestock complex. From farm to table and beyond, follow the misadventures of Weird Pig in this kaleidoscopic portrait of America, seen through the eyes of a crazed animal who insists on making himself at home there. 

Excerpts from Weird Pig, and stories featuring him, have appeared in ten magazines, including BarrelhouseThe Collagist, and Copper Nickel, where three of them won the magazine’s Editor’s Prize. One Weird Pig story was selected by Aimee Bender for inclusion in Best Small Fictions 2018.

Robert Long Foreman is the author of Among Other Things, a collection of essays, which was published in 2017 by Pleiades Press after winning the inaugural Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose. He has won a Pushcart Prize for fiction, and has published short stories and essays in such magazines as AgniCrazyhorseElectric Literature, and Kenyon Review Online. He has won contests at The Cincinnati Review,Willow SpringsAmerican Literary Review, and The Journal

Otherwise, the competition was fierce this year. We read a lot of great manuscripts, many not even represented on the list below. Here is a full list of finalists:


Weird Pig by Robert Long Foreman


Girl in the Moon by JJ Henderson
Mistakes by the Lake by Brian Petkash
Songs of Gold and Shadow: A Novel by Elizabeth Dalton
Solve for N by Leah McCormach


Four Dead Horses by KT Sparks
She Never Told Me About the Ocean by Elizabeth McKetta
Water, A Novel by Naguetalti Warren
Each of Us Angels by Shaylin Montgomery
The Lighting Artist: Or, The Unfortunate History of an Information Girl by Nicola Waldron