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 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.

Also, you accomplished short story writers might be planning on writing a novel next. In that case, I’d recommend you read my post on how to pull off a smashbang novel that lights your reader’s brain on fire.

It’s one of my best posts on storytelling and novel advice, so click that link above.

*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 Yorker 283
2.  Tin House* 129
3.  Ploughshares 90
4.  Granta 69
5.  Glimmer Train* 52
6.  Harper’s Magazine   50
New England Review 50
7. The Southern Review  45
8. Zoetrope All-Story  44
9.  Atlantic Monthly 43
American Short Fiction  43
Paris Review
43
10. McSweeney’s Quarterly 42
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 Branch 10
Idaho Review   10
  Gulf Coast
10
28. Boulevard   9
  The Gettysburg Review   9
  The Normal School 9
Fifth Wednesday Journal* 9
29. Oxford American  8
  Crazyhorse   8
  Threepenny Review  
8
  Mississippi Review  
8
30.  Image  7
Black Warrior Review   7
31. BOMB 6
  Nimrod 6
  Shenandoah   6
  The Sun  6
  Hobart  6
  Washington Square Review 6
  Esquire  6
  New Ohio Review 6
32. Fiction 5
  TriQuarterly  5
  Chicago Quarterly Review 5
  Passages North 5
  Bellevue Literary Review  5
  Southwest Review 5
  Byliner  5
33.  Commentary  4
  Joyland Magazine 4
  Orion 4
  Daily Lit 4
  Callaloo  4
  Salamander  4
  Massachusetts Review  4
American Scholar 4
  Meridian 4
  Freeman’s
4
 34. Copper Nickel 3
  Cimarron Review  3
  Guernica 3
  Commonweal  3
  The Common 3
  E-Flux Journal 3
  N+1 3
  Grain 3
  Emry’s Journal
3
35. Ninth Letter 2
  Crab Orchard Review  2
  New Letters  2
  Confrontation  2
  Tampa Review   2
  The Pinch 2
  Pembroke Magazine 2
  Hudson Review  2
  Los Angeles Review of Books 2
  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
  Epiphany 1
  New Madrid 1
  Pleiades 1
  Redivider 1
  Apple Valley Review 1
  Literary Review 1
  Southern Humanities Review 1
  Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet  1
  Western Humanities Review  1
  Prairie Fire 1
  Chicago Tribune (Printer’s Row) 1
  Slice 1
  Indiana Review 1
  Bennington Review 1
  Territory 1
  Wired 1
  Sycamore Review 1
  Fiction International 1
  Transition 1
  Arts and Letters 1
  Ruminate 1
  Ascent 1
  LitMag 1
  Hunger Mountain 1
  Southern Indiana Review 1
  Water-Stone Review 1
  Lunch Ticket 1
  Master’s Review 1
  Oyster River Pages 1
  New York Tyrant 1

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10 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.

    1. Yes, if you’re a writer the biggest acceptance of your short story would be New Yorker. I’m certain the NYRB does not apply to John’s list here, nor do any of them do only book reviews.

      Also, thanks for the list John! It’s been useful for my submitting process for the last year plus!

  2. To be honest, I really think No Contact Magazine is one of the best lit mags out there in the game. I find their selection to be very current and their overall brand to be one of the best.

  3. Slice, Redivider, Chicago Tribune, and New York Tyrant do not seem to be publishing anymore and probably warrant an asterisk. Would you consider my journal, The Summerset Review? We have been around twenty years.

  4. Sincere thank you for working this and other literary lists. We writers are a selfish lot, too happy to scavenge any leads down to the metaphorical bone, and run off without so much as a nod to who actually felled and dressed the meat.

    And anyone complaining about the quality of the list. Come on, it’s free. And helpful. And you were too lazy to do it yourself (you know who you are).