What Isn’t Remembered

Winner of the 2020 Book Prize in Fiction

The Raz-Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction for 2020 goes to Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry for her manuscript What Isn’t Remembered, chosen by guest-judges Kaylie Jones and Timothy Schaffert with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes. She will receive a $3,000 prize and publication from the University of Nebraska Press. A Russian-Armenian émigré, Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry has published more than forty stories, some essays, and poetry. Her work has appearedor is forthcoming in the Southern Review,theIndiana ReviewGulf CoastTriQuarterly, Flyway,Prairie Schooner, SliceNimrodArts & Letters, Confrontation, and elsewhere. Her short fiction was selected as a finalist for multiple awards, including six Pushcart nominations. Kristina is the winner of the 2013 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Tennessee Williams scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her debut novel, The Orchardwill be published by Ballantine/Random in 2022. 

About the Book

Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the stories in What Isn’t Remembered explore the burden, the power, and the nature of love between people who often feel misplaced and estranged from their deepest selves and the world, where they cannot find a home. The characters yearn not only to redefine themselves and rebuild their relationships but also to recover lost loves—a parent, a child, a friend, a spouse, a partner.

A young man longs for his mother’s love while grieving the loss of his older brother. A mother’s affair sabotages her relationship with her daughter, causing a lifelong feud between the two. A divorced man struggles to come to terms with his failed marriage and his family’s genocidal past while trying to persuade his father to start cancer treatments. A high school girl feels responsible for the death of her best friend, and the guilt continues to haunt her decades later.

Evocative and lyrical, the tales in What Isn’t Remembered uncover complex events and emotions, as well as the unpredictable ways in which people adapt to what happens in their lives, finding solace from the most surprising and unexpected sources.


“In Russian Armenian Gorcheva-Newberry’s vibrant collection, a series of immigrants embrace their adopted culture while remaining rootless and shackled to the past. . . . Throughout, the situations are arresting and the images indelible. Gorcheva-Newberry’s luminous prose will remain vivid in the reader’s mind.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Fans of the goddesses work and every reader who treasures powerful, surprising, and memorable short stories will find much to appreciate in this stunning first book.”—Lindsay Harmon, Booklist, starred review
“The book excels at juxtapositions without resolutions, that stretch and linger long after their stories are finished. . . . The stories of What Isn’t Remembered run an emotional marathon. They are virtuosic, bold, and unsparing as they talk about ‘history and personal experiences, hunger and pain as [we continue] living through them, as though nothing ever ended but coexisted in parallel worlds.'”—Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews, starred
“Spanning ages and continents, the stories in Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry’s collection focus on complex people facing the greatest life challenges. In the best traditions of Russian and American classics, the stories are at times raw and heart-wrenching, at other times uplifting, but always a true pleasure to read!”—Lara Vapnyar, author of Divide Me by Zero
“The stories in What Isn’t Remembered are what I call wayfaring. Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry is unafraid to wend her way through the experience of being alive in her time, and her people are given the great respect of full portrayals in prose that is both delicately rendered and tough. . . . These stories will be remembered by anyone fortunate enough to spend time with them. Congratulations to a new original and powerful voice.”—Richard Bausch, author of Something Is Out There
What Isn’t Remembered is an extraordinary work of fiction: Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry has given us stories that are immersive and so richly imagined, alternately elegiac and slyly comic, always arresting and lyrical. I wanted to live in the worlds Gorcheva-Newberry has so skillfully created in one story after another. I loved this book.”—Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts
“You can read Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry’s What Isn’t Remembered for a revealing look into the lives of Russian immigrants in the U.S., or for the fearless depiction of relationships between women; but most of all you should read her for the startlingly gorgeous language she employs to powerful effect in story after story, from the title piece, “What Isn’t Remembered,” with its lavish allusions to classical music and the convincing correlations between life and love and art, to the heartbreaking “Boys On the Moskva River,” with its portrait of a family struggling to survive during the slow collapse of the Soviet Union. What Isn’t Remembered may be a literary debut, but Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry is a writer who comes to us in full blossom. She has clearly traveled a long road to bring us this brilliant first collection of stories.”—Edward Falco, author of Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha: New and Selected Stories
“Short stories beg for brevity but can accommodate plenitude, demand velocity but can in one shaken snow globe reveal a whole winter. Skilled authors can startle us with stories of consequence, gravity, and comedy in modes both elegant and earthy. Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry is such a writer. Her passionate stories about desire, loss, longing, guilt, and displacement are stunning. Her characters have wrested their survival from all manner of entanglements with lyricism and force, empathy and recognition. Gorcheva-Newberry empowers them with her own impressive trove of knowledge—the language of medicine, food, music, anatomy, apple gathering. She reveals life in the raw. Yet these are love stories, too, and can crack the heart. What Isn’t Remembered is an enthralling, beautifully conceived collection by a gifted writer.”—R. T. Smith, author of Doves in Flight

About the Author

Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry , a Russian Armenian émigré, has published fifty stories and received eight Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Indiana Review, the Southern ReviewGulf CoastTriQuarterlyPrairie SchoonerNimrod, and elsewhere. Gorcheva-Newberry is the winner of the 2013 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Tennessee Williams scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.