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"Carapace" by Matthew Ryan Frankel Wins the 2023 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize


A poignant tale of crabs attending a grandfather's funeral captivated readers and won the prestigious 2023 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize. The winning story, "Carapace," written by Matthew Ryan Frankel, skillfully weaves the intricacies of family, loss, and the human spirit.

The story unfolds on a warm Carolina summer day as three Atlantic blue crabs make an unexpected appearance at the funeral. Amidst laughter and memories, the family pays tribute to the departed. Frankel masterfully captures the essence of his characters, including the strict yet poetic demeanor of the deceased grandfather, who instilled chivalric illusions of King Arthur and Guan Yu in the narrator.

As the family members gather near a milk crate filled with crabs, they engage in improvised prayers, reminiscing about their generous grandfather. The author adeptly blends the physical world with the spiritual, personifying the crabs as if they are the soulful carriers of messages from the afterlife. The narrator's contemplative attempt to connect with his grandfather's spirit through the crabs adds depth and emotion to the narrative.

Through vivid imagery and poetic language, Frankel explores the complexities of life, aging, and communication. The story moves seamlessly between the present and past, revealing the intimate moments shared between the narrator and his grandfather during the latter's decline. The tale delves into the grandfather's battle with stroke-induced physical limitations and his indomitable spirit to embrace knowledge even in his frailty.

Frankel's prose highlights the poignant moments of understanding shared between the narrator and his grandfather, emphasizing the power of love and compassion. As the story unfolds, readers are drawn into the emotional depth of human connections, reminding us of the frailty and beauty of life.

Ultimately, "Carapace" tugs at the heartstrings, inviting readers to ponder the universality of loss and the resilience of the human spirit. The story's touching conclusion serves as a testament to the enduring love and the transformational power of storytelling.

As the deserving winner of the 2023 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize, "Carapace" offers a moving and evocative reading experience. Matthew Ryan Frankel's poignant narrative leaves an indelible impression on readers and stands as a touching tribute to his grandfather, Khye Weng Ng.Source

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