Laila reports that the Zoo Prize Short Fiction contest has been canceled. But here’s the rub: all the writers who submitted their work (some 350) won’t get their $25 entry fees refunded. Even with Michael Curtis’s involvement, this strikes me as a potential scam, particularly since the money ended up going towards a full-page ad in the Atlantic Monthly — hardly the literary celebration that the writers expected. To cover its ass, the Zoo Press page reports that “Zoo Press reserves the right to withhold the Award in any given year.”
But if we do the math, 350 X $25 = $8,750. It’s too late in my time zone to call the Atlantic’s advertising department to try and confirm placement of the ad. But I will call them tomorrow morning. A full-page ad, according to this resource, costs $40,480.
The man behind this operation is Neil Azevedo. Some casual Googling reveals that Mr. Azevedo has been published in The Paris Review and The New Criterion. However, it may be worthwhile for the 350 writers to make their presence known to these and other publications. If Mr. Azevedo has a history of taking the money of writers and using it to promote (or in this case, partially subsidize) his own interests, then he needs to be called on it.