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Fellowship Recipient Serena Crawford

Serena Crawford is a 2008 Oregon Literary Fellowships recipient in fiction, the winner of the Walt Morey Fellowship.

Serena earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Oregon. She has worked as an assistant editor at Tin House magazine, and her fiction has appeared in Epoch, The Greensboro Review, Sonora Review and elsewhere.

Serena says, “I’m fascinated by travelers and expatriates, and my novels examine and expand on themes that I first encountered in many of my short stories: people living in limbo, straddling two cultures, and using foreign surroundings as means to make sense of their past.” She is currently working on a novel about “a couple of ex-patriates living in Taiwan.”

Fiction judge Eileen Pollack had this to say about the story Serena submitted with her application, “Ghost Month”:

“Serena Crawford whisks us to Taipei, sets us walking out of the city into a dangerous nighttime wasteland, picks us up and settles us on the back of a Vespa driven by a stranger with two sleepy children in tow, drives us to the sea, dunks us in the icy waves with dead dogs and who knows what other horrors, then finally chooses to save our lives. Any writer who could take her readers on such a breathtaking, shocking, disturbing and yet deeply moving journey more than deserves this prize.”

The lights of the city were casino-bright, the pavement below chalky and dull. I walked around a traffic circle and picked a random street, dodging oncoming scooters and bikes. I passed closed-up shops, pachinko parlors with dazed men chain-smoking in front of clattering machines, the different sections of sidewalk in front of each entrance like the patchwork of a quilt. I walked underneath a painted billboard, an ad for a movie depicting a bearded Chuck Norris cradling a machine gun, the only other foreigner around besides me. There were tables set up in doorways, altars of food, roasted pigs, packages of dried noodles, cans of tea with straws sticking out of them, uneaten feasts. I was in a different country—I knew that—but somehow it didn’t phase me, except that the brightness made my hangover worse.
— Serena Crawford, from “Ghost Month”