Cover Photo: A photo of Tamiko Beyer,  author and winner of the 2019 Robert J. Dau prize.
Photograph by Kian Goh

A Conversation With PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019 Author Tamiko Beyer

“The themes of social justice, the magic of water, and the power of queer love to create a different world—these are themes that I return to again and again in my writing and my life.”

PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019

Last DaysWe Come ElementalBlack Warrior ReviewDenver QuarterlyThe Georgia ReviewLiterary HubThe RumpusHyphenDusie

Black Warrior Review.

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“Safe is an interpretation”

—Kate Greenstreet, Young Tambling

We didn’t expect the eagerness that filled us on the last days of empire. For what, we couldn’t exactly say.

Metal glistened on the streets in the hot September days. The sun no longer a dandelion; the sun most definitely a muzzle. When it set, the Corporation—keen to kill the dark—flipped the switch.

Then, the marble facades of buildings were suddenly up-lit, streetlights swirled incandescent, and thousands of people hurtled through the furnace of synthesized laughter, pop songs, and an unlimited desire for all.

Some of us were on the edges, blocking out the canned sounds and lights as best we could. Building something new, something old. We could feel the northern half of our planet begin to tilt away from the sun.

I am on the cusp of change, and the curve is shifting fast

It was an experience and then it was a memory. And then a system of belief, a way to navigate the dissolving world.

I wanted to become more salt-wind, less reflection. To become quiet enough to hear the ancestors.

The Art of WarYoung TamblingKingdomAnamaliaCitizen

Last Days