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2013 Winners, Runners-Up, and Finalists

Find the listings for winners, runners-up, and finalists for all categories in the 2013’s competition below. For the short-list finalists and semi-finalists, go here.


There were 362 entries for 2013 in the novel category. Of that total, 144 entries were from Louisiana authors. The remainder represent 37 states and seven foreign countries. The category was judged by Deborah Grosvenor (full bio here). Her selections were:


Jennifer Steil, Author

The Ambassador’s Wife by Jennifer Steil, La Paz, Bolivia
This topical novel tells the story of a kidnapping of an American woman, wife of the British Ambassador, in a fictional Middle Eastern country. The author clearly knows her setting and characters well, skillfully interweaving the story of her protagonist’s captivity with the story of her marriage, at the same time illuminating the shadowy world of terrorism. The Ambassador’s Wife succeeds in combining a character-driven, richly textured story with the elements of a thriller, a rare feat indeed.  

First Runner-Up

Feux de Joie by Elizabeth Sanders, New York, NY
Set in New Orleans and Vacherie, LA, this assured novel uses a story about the Cajun tradition of bonfire building, sibling rivalry, and a misguided search for redemption to explore the fragility of human relationships. A strong engaging voice, well-developed characters, and a well-paced plot transform the story of a man’s need to build the best bonfire ever into a rich and poignant story about love and loss.

Second Runner-Up

Traveling Shoes by Patrician Benton, Knoxville, TN
This is the story of a 12-year old girl, Sybil, who wants to escape the small-town existence of a farm produce community in the South, run away on the train that runs through the middle of town, and get to New York to become an opera singer. Sybil is a strong, well-defined character, and her voice is confident and true throughout, conveying all the angst and embarrassment that comes with being 12 and yearning to be older. Other characters in the story feel authentic as well, and the author’s evocation of place feels just right. This is a book that manages to elicit our tenderness for Sybil without ever being corny.  

Third Runner-Up

Posing for Picasso by Lou Dischler, Spartanburg, SC
This dark but funny novel follows a seemingly innocent young girl, Rennie, on a contemporary picaresque journey in which she tangles with the Dixie Mafia and commits a series of heinous crimes. The narrative walks a fine line between the humorous and the macabre as it gradually reveals Rennie’s complexity and keeps the reader guessing how much of her rising casualty list is planned and how much is spontaneous. Despite the book’s dark subject matter, the author keeps us laughing and rooting for Rennie until the book’s satisfying conclusion.

Other Finalists

Last Clear Chance, Bob Bachner, New York, NY
Opus Brooklyn, Glenn Vanstrum, La Jolla, CA
Private Collection, Geoff Wyss, New Orleans, LA (Sent)
Rich, Martha Burns, La Luz, NM (Sent)
Stained Glass, Diane Manning, Houston, TX
The Man Who Trounced God at Chess, Jacob Appel, New York, NY  (Sent)
The Road to Sturgis, George Gier, St. Charles, IL
Veiled Men, Ann Stewart McBee, St. Francs, WI
Wickwythe Hall, Judithe Little, Houston, TX


Narrative Non-Fiction Book[/box]

There were 181 entries for 2013 in the new category of book-length narrative non-fiction. Of that total, 84 entries were from Louisiana authors. The remainder represent 17 states and two foreign countries.  The category was judged by Jeff Kleinman (read his full bio here). His selections were:



Paradise Misplaced by Alex Sheshunoff, Ojai, CA
This is a delightful read. A young man shepherding a bumbling Internet start-up in New York City becomes disillusioned with his station in life: not only work, but also his relationships, his poor health conditions, and the pressures of “making it.” He goes off to find an ideal paradise and finds himself on an island called Yap in the middle of the Pacific. The book could potentially have a wide audience. The author states that searching for paradise is, in fact, an unoriginal endeavor; but this doesn’t stilt the narrative. His self-deprecating tone and cleverly drawn observations of his own life carry what is, at its core, a very simple story that everyone has thought about once or twice or thrice. Simply put, the story is a learning experience, in which both we and the narrator will learn not only about the narrator himself, but also about the culture of a world we know very little about. 

First Runner-Up

Witness to Change by Sybil Morial of New Orleans
This memoir is not just a memoir. It’s a history, a personal history, you might say, though the word personal is kind of a misnomer too, because the personal is very public in this case, as the manuscript tells the story of a black family’s life in New Orleans during the era of Jim Crow laws. It’s one thing to know of the laws, but it’s another to see them from the pragmatic view of a black family experiencing them, to see how they affected their lives in a quotidian but consequential way. These two words – quotidian and consequential – are hardly ever put together, and I think this is why the manuscript works: it does a good job of handling the moments in which the family experiences the laws. It is neither melodramatic nor willfully removed. These moments are handled deftly…The narrator who is telling us the personal story is a voice worth following.  

Equal Second Runners-Up

Uncovered by Leah Lax, Houston, TX
This memoir covers the 30 years the author spent as a part of an ultra-orthodox Hasidic community. The writing is often very solid. She employs a tone that is understated, cold, and distant, but it warms at the right times, like when she explains the significance of a particular event. Many memoirs don’t apply this knowing current self, they just rely on the craziness of the facts, and this author doesn’t do that. Similarly, she also makes jumps in time, explaining how an event coincides thematically with something that either happened prior to or after the story’s “present action.” In terms of voice, I like that the author is willing to sprinkle in a few Yiddish words here and there. This inclusion might be polarizing, but I think the play with the two languages off each other (English and Yiddish) is emblematic of the struggle the author has/had with the Hasidic community. 

“I am properly back where I started from” – Flannery O’Connor to Her Editor Robert Giroux 
by Patrick Samway, SJ, Philadelphia,
In terms of subject matter, this is a very illuminating book. The milieu is blue blood literary figures of the early and mid 20th century: O’Connor and Giroux, as well as figures like Robert Lowell and John Berryman. It has a built-in readership: readers of O’Connor and admirers of that circle. Also, it could prove timely, since Boris Kachka’s book about Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, entitled Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, is just out.

Other Finalists

Blameworthy: The Culpability of Cody Posey, Martha Burns, La Luz, NM
King of the Gunrunners
, James W. Miller, New Orleans, LA
Right to Revolt
, Patricia Boyett, New Orleans, LA
The Inventor of Memories, Peter Selgin, Milledgeville, GA
Not About Love
, Zena Petersen, Provo, UT


There were126 entries for 2013 in the novella category. Of that total, 61 entries were from Louisiana authors. The remainder represent 25 states and two foreign countries. The category was judged by Lisa Zeidner (read her full bio here). Her selections were:


Jacob Appel-Essay

The Amazing Mr. Morality by Jacob Appel, New York, NY
You can go home again–but generally, no good will come of it.  What distinguishes Jacob Appel’s novella is his well-controlled and winning voice, which is restrained, droll, and more than a bit sneaky.  The story focuses on the surprises of daily life in this most ordinary little town, where moral missteps are everywhere–lucky for our (anti) hero, who returns after many years to write an ethics column for a local paper.  The plot is also perfectly-scaled for the novella form: enough happening to keep a reader motoring through, but not too much happening that the story demands a novel’s worth of development.  

[/box]First Runner-Up[/box]

My Beautiful Money by Julie Chagi, Scotts Valley, CA
The author’s protagonist is extremely well drawn: she’s wary, pensive–and more than a bit gullible.  When this San Francisco gallery owner finds herself the victim of a robbery, she couldn’t be more startled to be drawn to the thief, while her dying mother deals with a very different kind of con artist.  This first person narrator draws us into her gentle perplexity, and gives us a surprising–yet utterly convincing–relationship.

Equal Second Runners-Up

Sandy & Wayne by Steve Yates, Flowood, MS
It’s hard to imagine a less likely setting for a love story than on a dusty  Arkansas road construction crew. But this author makes it work.  Sandy and Wayne are as tough and hard-nosed as they come, so their romance is touching without ever being sentimental. Yates makes great use of his insider’s knowledge of this setting.  In a way, the landscape itself is the star of this story–sometimes lush, sometimes severe and threatening.

Reflexology by John Vanderslice, Conway, AR
Dan, the affable young man at the center of John Vanderslice’s Reflexology, falls for Claudine hard, pursues her hard–and makes a series of unsettling discoveries about her.  What begins as a dating story turns into a much darker sort of mystery.  An excellent job with an unreliable narrator, who draws us in, gains our trust–and then turns out to have some very serious blind spots.

Other Finalists

15/33, Shannon Kirk, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA
A Turn of the Stomach, Chandler Groover, Athens, GA
Baldwin Cottage, Wendy Simons, Stevensville, MI
Dark Swans and Painted Faces, John Shalestock, Warrenton, VA
Death House Blues, Barnes Carr, Houston, TX
Earth Drum, Matt Bell, Wallops Island, VA
Feeding Instructions, Stan Kempton, New Orleans, LA
Jonas in Frames, Chris Hutchinson, Houston, TX
Sleepy Time Down South, C. W. Canon, New Orleans, LA
Thief, Alyce L. Miller, Bloomington, IN


There were 293 entries for 2013 in the novel-in-progress category. Of that total,
133 entries were from Louisiana authors. The remainder represent 38 states and eight foreign countries. The category was judged by April Eberhardt (read her full bio here).



Trespass by Sharon Thatcher, Boise, ID
Tresspass is the alluring story of a woman and her husband who escape from Portland, OR to the country, to simplify their lives and to create a safe haven after a recent kidnapping that has left the wife shaken. Upon arrival at their rural home, they encounter unexpected problems with the old house, along with a young couple camping on their property. Although the trespassers initially agree to leave, they don’t, and their lurking presence becomes increasingly threatening to the new owners, causing fissures to develop in their marriage as the husband dismisses the danger that his wife perceives. Told in a clear and compelling voice, Trespass is the creepy tale of a fresh start gone awry. It combines the best of a good mystery with the intriguing tale of a marriage in transition, and has the hallmarks of a tension-filled, satisfying story.

First Runner-Up

In the City of Falling Stars, Christopher Tusa, New Orleans, LA
In The City of Falling Stars, dead birds are falling out of the New Orleans sky, and Walter Mullgrave, reeling in the aftermath of Katrina, and separated from his wife, who’s pregnant by another man, suspects the worst. Convinced of a government plot, Walter begins to see danger in everything around him, all the while guzzling Maalox and erecting a storm shelter in his front yard. His children, both amused and annoyed by their father’s creeping paranoia, humor him, as does his wife, but the semblance of normality they attempt to maintain as a family is quickly crumbling.  This witty tragicomedy, distinguished by snappy dialogue and a subtle sense of the absurd, convincingly captures the uncertainty and fear pervading the country in the wake of 9/11 and Katrina, and amid the continued undercurrent of war.

Second Runner-Up

Surrendering Appomattox by Jacob Appel, New York, NY
In Surrendering Appomattox, American Civil War Professor Nicholas Smythe makes a startling discovery: the Civil War may never have happened. Following the untimely death of his wife’s eccentric cousin, Professor Smythe receives in the mail a rare photo of Abraham Lincoln, along with instructions to contact a mysterious person in Ohio who holds the key to the photo and the truth about the Civil War. Unfolding in a rollicking style, with colorful characters and entertaining insights into the hierarchies and pretenses
of the academic world, Surrendering Appomattox.

Other Finalists

Amelia’s Tenant, Kathleen Crowley, Belmont, MA
Beautiful Men and Me, Robin Martin, Brooklyn, NY
Bondage, John Malone, Lafayette, LA
Fire on the Island, Timothy Smith, Paris, France
Light from Elsewhere, Joyce Miller, Cincinnati, OH
Lower Case Love, Geoff Schutt, Gaithersburg, MD
No. 1 – A How-To Guide For Making It to the Top in Rock and Roll
John Elderkin, Charlotte, NC
Painting Her Life, Pamela Reitman, San Francisco, CA
Pater Noster
, William Coles, Salt Lake City, UT
Perfect Son, George Wen, New York, NY
Portraits, Anonymous
Push, Peter G. Olivero, Rochester Hills, MI
Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong
, Ken Mask, Lafayette, LA
Sun Eye, Moon Eye
, Vincent Czyz, Jersey City, NJ
The Blue Hour
, George Harrar, Wayland, MA
The Blues for Sarah, Irene Mosvold, Louisville, KY
The Diamond Mountain, Ellis Anderson, Bay St. Louis, MS
The Doctor’s Wife, Rita Ciresi, Tampa, FL
The Shakespeare Order
, Becky Frusher, Lorena, TX
The Sound of Falling Darkness
, Lyn Di Lorio, New York, NY
The Unattended Moment
, Marcia Peck, Minnatonka, MN
The Vermillion Sea
, Marylee MacDonald, Tempe, AZ
Three Living, Three Dead, Christian Livermore, Savannah, GA


There were 211 entries for 2013 for the short story category. Of these entries 102 were from Louisiana authors. The remainder represent 36 states and four foreign countries. The category was judged by Ron Rash (read his full bio here). His selections were:


The Short Story category was judged by: Ron Rash.
The distinguished American poet, short story writer, and novelist, was  born on William Faulkner’s birthday, September 25, in 1953 in Chester, SC . Rash, the final round judge of the Short Story category of the 2013 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, is author ofSerena, the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, which has been adapted for a feature film starring Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence to be released this winterRash has written four other prizewinning novels, One Foot in EdenSaints at the River,The World Made Straight, and The Cove and three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Night, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O.Henry Prize, he is a resident writer at Western Carolina University where he holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies and teaches a graduate class in fiction.



Needle Man, Barnes Carr, Houston, TX
An ambitious, beautifully written story that captures the enduring impact of a natural disaster upon characters so diverse that they come to represent a whole city.

Second Runner-Up

What Felt Good at the Time, Chris Waddington, New Orleans, LA
A  story whose brilliant final paragraph raises all that has come before into the sublime.

Third Runner-Up

Whispering Pines, Suzanne Jeschke, Salt Lake City, UT
This story has characters so fully-realized that they feel more like memory than fiction.

Other Finalists

A Secret Service, Paul Negri, Clifton, NJ
Charcoal, Rachel Unkefer, Charlottesville, VA
Half, Sharon Harrigan, Paris, France
Hand in Glove, Darlene Olivo, Concord, NH
Labor Day Was Yesterday, Ben Shields, New Orleans, LA
Lisbeth, Anonymous
Losing My Religion, Ward Zimmerman,
Maneki Neko, Jan English Leary, Chicago, IL
Riding in Cars at Night, Tad Bartlett, New Orleans, LA
Rock Salt and Rabbit, Karin C. Davidson, Columbus, OH
Speaking of the Dead, William Coles, Salt Lake City, UT
The Artist Colony, Bruce Wexler, Elmhurst, IL
The Hanging of Miguel Delgado, Barbara Leni Yost, Phoenix, AZ
The Longitude  Problem, Kate Bullard Adams, Charleston, SC
The Monkey of LaMonte, William Thrift, Columbia, SC
Tired Feet, Rested Souls, Carolann Neilon Malley, Grantby, MA
Uncle Edgar and the Tintinnabulation of the Bells, Susie Slosberg, Bronxville, NY
White Butterfly, Dick Sheffield, San Angelo, TXZ
Year by Year, MaryLee MacDonald, Tempe, AZ


There were 191 entries for 2013 in the essay category. Of the total, 101 entries were from Louisiana authors. The remainder represented 21 states and 3 foreign countries. The category was judged by Roy Blount, Jr. (click here for his full bio). His selections were:



The Lifted Corner, N. West Moss, West Milford, NJ
The title of “The Lifted Corner” is an image that draws a unforced thread through a quietly frightening, delicately bloody, unschmaltzily tender story of a marriage. The writing is clean, felt, precise. It shares plenty but not too much. The romance is believable. There’s no joke in the lifted corner, but there is a smile.

Equal Runners-Up

Airborne by Petra Perkins, Highlands Ranch, CO
“Airborne” is about fearfully, protractedly trying (no spoiler here) to learn to fly a plane. The essayist brings the reader into both the learning process and the fear, and deftly, movingly brings the enterprise into context

Still Technically It Is Possible for an American to Live Next to Syria,
By Nathan Deuel, Petersburg, IL
This is a fittingly crazy-ass title for this rowdy but no-kidding dispatch from an unusual source: the desperately home-making, child-keeping husband of a dashing foreign correspondent in turbulent zones.


36 Love Poems to Spain, Susan John, Brooklyn, NY
Captive Audience, Robert Hambling Davis, Newark, DE
Cool, Clear, Clean Water, Mary Kuykendall-Weber, Middle Grove, NY
Death by Chocolate, Kathy Lepik, Atlanta, GA
Environmental Injustice, Linda Bui, Baton Rouge, LA
Epitaph in Thirty-One Characters, Ellis Anderson, Bay St. Louis, MS
Pixie Dust Sprinkles a Jew in Turkey, Cynthia Levy, Baton Rouge, LA
Layers of a Painted Life, Janet Taylor-Perry, Ridgeland, MS
My Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Yukihisa Yorker Kageyama, New York, NY
Number the Dead, William Hawkins, Baton Rouge, LA
Rakin’ Leaves, William Bryant, Glenwood Springs, CO
Southern Suttee, Rosemary Daniell, Savannah, GA
The Day John Lennon Saved Me, Faith Garbin, Ocean Springs, MS
The Future, Frank Cox, Atlanta, GA
Walk It Off, Jonathan Irpino, New Orleans, LA
What is Fear?,
 Peter Tattersall, New Orleans, LA


There were 232 entries in the 2013 poetry category. Of the 232 entries, 136 were from Louisiana poets. The remainder of the entries came from 26 states and two foreign countries. The category was judged by Beth Ann Fennelly (read her full bio here). Her selections were:



Rapid by Gail Waldstein, Denver, CO
This incredibly ambitious poem is an extended meditation on free will, responsibility, and death.  Two competing narrative strands are skillfully developed–in one, an oncologist rafts the Grand Canyon, and in the other, he recalls a young female patient.  This patient, on whom he operated, seems to recover,  eventually getting married and giving birth–but he learns otherwise. Her rapid decline and the rapids the speaker rides are tied to each other in powerful ways.  This is a moving, accomplished, astute poem. 

First Runner-Up

Chili in Winter, Petra Perkins, Highlands Ranch, CO
What a romp this sexy, silly, joyous poem this is. The speaker and her “lusty illicit professor of English Lit’rature” take a break from a weekend spent deep in the joys of carnal knowledge to cook up some green pork chili and the results are magical.  I delight in the writer’s sound play, shifts of diction, and puns–the writer is having a great time, and so are we lucky readers.

Second Runner-Up

Two Places by Cassie Pruyn, New Orleans, LA
The lyrical, evocative poem is a meditation on place, and how landscape influences psychology.  The speaker considers her current life, by the Mississippi River, with that of her younger self, by the Hudson River.  Also evoked are early settlers who used the rivers, and the poem is enlivened by historical references and detailed images which haunt and entrance. 

Other Finalists

Aspiring to Magic, James Bourey, Dover, DE
 Reggie Young, Lafayette, LA
By Chance, Pat Gallant, New York, NY
Candy Andy or Cougar Bait, Irene Mosvold, Louisville, Ky
Collapse, Amy Wilder, Columbia, MO
Confederate Jasmine: New World Elegy, Brad Richard, New Orleans, LA
Conway, AR, Caroline Rash, New Orleans, LA
Cubicle of Heaven, Marie Louise Guste Nix, Mandeville, LA
Fragile Things, Craig Black, Darrow, LA
Infallible Politics Uncrowned, Manfred Pollard, New Orleans, LA
In the Light of Early Morning, Robert Desmarais, New Orleans, LA
Love’s Upside Down Crown: Last Rush to First Blush, Phyllis Hudson, New Orleans, LA
Mammy Dearest, Candace Wiley, York, SC
Of Midnight, Ken Mask, Lafayette, LA
Racing on a Carousel, Larkin Edwin Greer, New York, NY
Sideshow, Judith White, Chevy Chase, MD
Steel on Wood, J. Ed Marston, Chattanooga, TN
String Theories, Paulette Bane, Conway, AR
The Ghosts of Thunder Road, Ned Balbo, Baltimore, MD
The Paper Church, Vickie Dailey, Taylors, SC
The Past Lingers, Craig Black, Darrow, LA
The Theology of Popcorn, Reggie Young, Lafayette, LA
This Starry Night, Jennifer Bartell, Johnsonville, SC

Short Story by a High School Student

There were 166 entries in the High School Short Story Category. Of that number 87 were from Louisiana writers. The remainder represented 12 states and four foreign countries. The category was judged by Tom Carson (read his full bio here). His selections were:


Jackson Mierlsepia

Welding Wounds Shut by Jack Mierl, Mandeville, LA
This story is a wonderful blend of acute observation and imaginative freedom.  In its opening paragraph,  a boy made out of steel walks into a high-school shop class, and we’re told nothing about how he got that way even after the narrator compassionately decides to mentor him in welding.  The premise is intriguingly surreal, but we accept it largely because of  the author’s vivid, intricate, and precise rendition of  the tale’s everyday backdrop: the noise, the slovenly teacher, the other students jockeying for favor, the shop’s array of tools and work stations and the narrator’s offhand expertise about them. This persuasive atmosphere is what makes the emerging connection between the two central characters convincing and ultimately moving.  It shows rare confidence in a young writer to grasp that the power of accurate descriptions and credibly rendered human behavior — yes, even when the human in question is made of steel —  can turn explanations of a story’s inner meaning unnecessary. 

Four Equal Runners-Up

Coffin, William Maloney, New Orleans, LA
This story is, first and foremost, hilariously funny. That’s never something to dismiss, because humor is harder to manage successfully than solemnity. But the story’s considerable artfulness is all in the narrator’s unsurprised, deceptively bland tone as he describes not only his outrageous predicament but the even more outrageous possible provocations for it. 

Her Cycle, Julian Lombard, Harvey, LA
The author makes something excitingly new out of an old theme — a heroine with an imaginary friend — by paying exquisite, often witty attention to not only the psychological and sexual ambiguities but the meteorological practicalities involved in adopting a literal raincloud as your new BFF.
 Sydne Thomas, Kenner, LA
This story hows an uncommon understanding of how easily first-person narrators can fool you into thinking they’re sympathetic people, which isn’t always the case.  The story’s breezy, ingratiating surface hides a deft portrait of a born user who’d rather be clever than man up.
What They Did To Me, Helen Lovett, New Orleans, LA
A story that is a wickedly smart and depressingly plausible guess about what the Big Guy — or is that Gal? — in The Sky really thinks of those who worship Him (or Her).  Only when you reach the end do you realize how brilliant the story’s title is, and that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Other Finalists

Another Me, Felicity Lartigue, Marrero, LA
Bones, Hannah Sarco, New Orleans, LA
Bull Riding, Josie Benson, Bowling Green, OH
Cardboard, Skey Dashner, New Orleans, LA
Flowers, Frida Gurewitz, Los Angeles, CA
Formicarium, Siobhan Kelly, New Orleans, LA
God is Ambidextrous, Esben Klarlund, Chatham, NJ
Haunt, Peyton Brunet, New Orleans, LA
Hearts, Josephine Kihiu, Fairfax, VA
Leap, Madeleine Granovetter, Glen Ridge, NJ
Marked, James Niffenegger, Sarasota, FL
Nightmare, Luis Eduardo Bermudez Ham, Idyllwild, CA
Redemption Ridge, Lottie Brent Boggan, Jackson, MS
Route 305: Paris to Toulouse, Sophia Derbes, New Orleans, LA
Temporal Redemption, Hannah Dent, Terrell, NC
The Beach Home, Elliott, Frilett, New Orleans, LA
The Boy Who Stole the Stars, Leah Griffin, Sherrill’s Ford, NC
The Healing Tea, Alex Gracen, Mandeville, LA
The Power of Flight, Claudia Leger, Slidell, LA
The Smothered Candle, J. J. Cronin, Rye, NY
The Unremitting Staircase, Leah Bordlee, New Orleans, LA
Trance, Mississippi, Tyler Despenza, New Orleans, LA
Two Lonesome Lemons and the Jester Child, Genevieve Lovern, Abita Springs, LA
Wings, Ian Urrea, New Orleans, LA

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