Extinction Events

Winner of the 2018 Book Prize in Fiction

The Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction for 2018 goes to Liz Breazeale for her manuscript “Extinction Events,” chosen by guest-judges Bernice McFadden and Jack Driscoll with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication from the University of Nebraska Press. 

About the Book

In this collection of short stories, Liz Breazeale explores the connections between humans and the natural world by examining the processes and history of our planet. A myriad of extinction events large and small have ruptured the history of the earth, and so it is with the women of this book, who struggle to define themselves amid their own personal cataclysms and those igniting the world around them. They are a mother watching the islands of the world disappear one by one, a new bride using alien abduction to get closer to her estranged parent, a daughter searching for her mother among the lost cities of the world, a sister trying and failing to protect her mythical continent–obsessed brother.

Here extinction events come in all sizes and shapes: as volcanic eruptions and devastating plagues and meteor impacts, as estrangements and betrayals and losses. Dark, angry, and apocalyptic, Extinction Events is a compendium of all the ways in which life can be annihilated.


“In Breazeale’s world a climatologist anticipates the destruction of Kiribati, her island home: ‘We won’t let ourselves be eroded. You can’t disappear us.’ These stories pit our most intimate aspirations against cosmic extinctions—truly spellbinding, essential stories of our time.”—Wendell Mayo, author of Survival House

Extinction Events is a book for our times. Against the backdrop of environmental cataclysms past and future, the stories here bring to life the fractured worlds of artists and scientists, hucksters and hypnotists, all searching for those relationships that can connect and sustain us.”—Lawrence Coates, author of Camp Olvido

“With a bold contemporary relevance, this collection captures the giddy wonder inside our panic. . . . Liz Breazeale stands her characters in the dusty history of the Chicxulub crater as they recite the poetry of humanity’s everyday aches, the breath of the dinosaurs on their necks. In the face of a mandatory evacuation, one is tempted to batten down the hatches and curl up with this marvel of a book.”—Jennifer Murvin, graphic narrative editor of Moon City Review

About the Author

Liz Breazeale is a technical communications editor for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including PleiadesSou’westerTerritoryArroyo Literary Review, and Fence.