When Nino Cipri entered the Dzanc Short Story Collection Contest, they had no expectation of winning, so when they won, they were shocked. The prize came with a publishing contract, and suddenly Cipri was scrambling for a literary agent, negotiating a contract, and reaching a wider audience.
“I wasn’t really planning on writing a short story collection for probably another decade,” Cipri told me when we talked on New Books in Science Fiction. “I don’t have the kind of output that a lot of other short story writers do. I was publishing maybe one or two stories a year.”
Cipri’s modestly belies the maturity of their writing. The stories in Homesick combines science fiction and horror to create complex tales about everything from ghosts and alien seedpods to difficult mothers and falling in love. Structurally, the stories vary. In addition to using third-person narration, there’s a story built on letters, a multiple-choice quiz, and a transcript of a series of recordings. What all the stories have in common is an interest in the meaning of home, and the presence of queer and trans characters.
“For me personally, as a trans person, I’m always thinking about what does home mean when I literally don’t feel at home in my body, or didn’t for a long time. I do now. And what does home mean for a lot of trans and queer people when home is not a safe place for us,” Cipri says.
Cipri is a queer and trans/nonbinary writer, editor, and educator. They are a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Writers’ Workshop and earned their MFA in fiction from the University of Kansas in 2019. Homesick is their first book.