He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Ranking of the 100 Best Literary Magazines

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This list ranks literary magazines by how often their short stories have appeared in the Best American Short Stories. 

In some ways it’s ridiculous to rank literary magazines by the number of awards they’ve received, but it still can be useful for writers to figure out where to submit.

(If you’re looking for nonfiction or essay rankings, go to my Ranking of Literary Nonfiction Markets). 

The list below arranges literary journals in order of how many times they’ve had a short story or special mention in the last eleven years (2007 – 2018) in the Best American Short Stories (BASS). I award a certain number of points for the winners and a lesser number of points for every special mention. Every October I’ll update the page to reflect the new year.

There were seventeen newcomers added to this year’s list, up from twelve newcomers last year. Some of the journals were new, and some have been around quite a well and only now are being recognized by BASS.

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On statistics: statistics is a epistemic methodology prized by our modernistic, science-obsessed world as the primary way to Know Things. The cold hard facts trumps subjective knowledge, right? But I would argue that statistics gives us only a very limited view of the world, and one which necessarily skews “proper” knowledge.

Let me be less philosophical and more practical: Please don’t overestimate the important of the list below. The list below does not tell you whether a literary journal is good or not, it only tells you whether the Best American Short Story editors happened to like the flavor of stories in a literary journal. That, necessarily, is entirely subjective, and I encourage you to discover for yourself the type of fiction each literary magazine publishes, as well as explore the many excellent literary journals that don’t appear on this list.

I dislike some “high” level literary journals and really love “low” level literary journals. So while my tastes are not necessarily reflected by the list below, that’s good, because it will force you all, my lovely, devoted readers, to form your own judgments.

For those of you already deep in the literary magazine world, I hope that this Best American Short Story list is one aid among many to help you figure out where to submit and subscribe.

Southern Review and Zyzzyva had great showings this year. Zyzzyva moved from 15 to 11, continuing their upward momentum, and Southern Review moved from 12 to 7.

On the other hand, we had an enormous amount of shut-outs this year. One Story, American Short Fiction, Atlantic Monthly, AGNIVirginia Quarterly Review and Glimmer Train got completely shut out — not a single point for any of them. Which basically means their fiction didn’t resonate with this year’s editor, Roxane Gay. 

Gulf Coast has moved up a great deal over the past few years, up to a respectable spot more commensurate with their reputation, and Passages North got on the map in a big way, going from zero points to 5 points this year.

Another lit mag that’s worth noting is Fifth Wednesday Journal. They’ve been consistently amassing nods from the BASS editors, and they should be on your radar to submit to.

*If there is an asterisk next to the name, it means that journal is no longer publishing new material.*

Best Literary Magazines Rankings:

1. The New Yorker283
2. Tin House*129
3. Ploughshares90
4. Granta69
5. Glimmer Train*52
6. Harper’s Magazine  50
 New England Review50
7.The Southern Review 45
8.Zoetrope All-Story 44
9. Atlantic Monthly43
 American Short Fiction 43
 Paris Review
43
10.McSweeney’s Quarterly42
11.ZYZZYVA
34
12. One Story  32
13. The Kenyon Review  31
14.Virginia Quarterly Review  28
 The Iowa Review  28
15.Narrative Magazine
24
16. AGNI  22
17.  Conjunctions  21
18. Antioch Review 20
 Yale Review  20
 Alaska Quarterly Review 
20
 The Missouri Review  20
19.Ecotone 
19
20.  Subtropics 18
21.Prairie Schooner 17
 A Public Space  17
22.Five Points  16
 Epoch 16
23. Georgia Review  15
24.The Sewanee Review  
13
25. Michigan Quarterly Review 12
 The Cincinnati Review  
12
 StoryQuarterly 
12
26.Santa Monica Review  11
 Harvard Review 11
 Colorado Review 11
 27.  Witness 10
  West Branch10
 Idaho Review  10
 Gulf Coast
10
28.Boulevard  9
 The Gettysburg Review  9
 The Normal School9
 Fifth Wednesday Journal*9
29.Oxford American 8
 Crazyhorse  8
 Threepenny Review  
8
 Mississippi Review  
8
30. Image 7
 Black Warrior Review  7
31.BOMB6
 Nimrod6
 Shenandoah  6
 The Sun 6
 Hobart 6
 Washington Square Review6
 Esquire 6
 New Ohio Review6
32.Fiction5
 TriQuarterly 5
 Chicago Quarterly Review5
 Passages North5
 Bellevue Literary Review 5
 Southwest Review5
 Byliner 5
33. Commentary 4
 Joyland Magazine4
 Orion4
 Daily Lit4
 Callaloo 4
 Salamander 4
 Massachusetts Review 4
 American Scholar4
 Meridian4
 Freeman’s
4
 34.Copper Nickel3
 Cimarron Review 3
 Guernica3
 Commonweal 3
 The Common3
 E-Flux Journal3
 N+13
 Grain3
 Emry’s Journal
3
35.Ninth Letter2
 Crab Orchard Review 2
 New Letters 2
 Confrontation 2
 Tampa Review  2
 The Pinch2
 Pembroke Magazine2
 Hudson Review 2
 Los Angeles Review of Books2
 Greensboro Review
2
 Event
2
 Isthmus
2
 Electric Literature
2
 Hopkins Review
2
36.Hayden’s Ferry Review 1
 The Literarian 1
 Carolina Quarterly 1
 Coffin Factory 1
 Little Star 1
 Red Rock Review 1
 Cutbank 1
 Denver Quarterly 1
 Alligator Juniper 1
 Unstuck 1
 Able Muse 1
 Southampton Review 1
 Sou’wester 1
 Consequence 1
 December 1
 Blackbird 1
 New South 1
 Sonora Review 1
 Epiphany1
 New Madrid1
 Pleiades1
 Redivider1
 Apple Valley Review1
 Literary Review1
 Southern Humanities Review1
 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 1
 Western Humanities Review 1
 Prairie Fire1
 Chicago Tribune (Printer’s Row)1
 Slice1
 Indiana Review1
 Bennington Review1
 Territory1
 Wired1
 Sycamore Review1
 Fiction International1
 Transition1
 Arts and Letters1
 Ruminate1
 Ascent1
 LitMag1
 Hunger Mountain1
 Southern Indiana Review1
 Water-Stone Review1
 Lunch Ticket1
 Master’s Review1
 Oyster River Pages1
 New York Tyrant1

 

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18 + 17 =

4 comments

    1. The numbers are from the last ten years. Just because one doesn’t get points this year, that doesn’t mean they drop to zero.

  1. Fairly odd. “The New Yorker” is so very mainstream and so well-known that one is not very enlightened by the ranking. Moreover, their “fiction” is hardly in the same league as their non-fiction…..so when you rank them by “literary,” it’s not clear if you are referring to non-fiction OR fiction. Plus you include book REVIEWS further obfuscating matters. Too, no “New York Review of Books” as long as you’re going to include reviews of books as “literary”; in addition, I don’t see “Partisan Review”. Glad to see “McSweeneys” didn’t make the list: near-pure garbage.
    As I say, an odd list. Nevertheless, I’ll be checking out some of the them.