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The Idaho Review Marks a 20-Year Milestone

Cover of 20th edition featuring a bear illustration

The Idaho Review, the literary journal produced through Boise State’s creative writing program, recently published its 20th anniversary issue. It features fiction from Charles Baxter, Joyce Carol Oates and Corinna Vallianatos, and an interview with George Pelecanos, the best-selling Emmy-nominated screenwriter and novelist.

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The issue includes writers from various modes of storytelling, a reflection of the new Department of Theatre, Film, and Creative Writing that unites Boise State storytellers under one roof. The interview with Pelecanos explores the trend of fiction writers working in the TV writers’ room (Pelecanos wrote for HBO’s The Wire, and is now a co-creator and writer for The Deuce). The journal also published a play for the first time. Wilde About Whitman, a play by David Simpatico, imagines the winter afternoon Oscar Wilde spent with Walt Whitman in Camden, New Jersey, in 1882.

Idaho Review Editor Mitch Wieland, a professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Creative Writing, founded the Idaho Review in late 1998 with startup money from then-provost Daryl Jones. The first issue put The Idaho Review on the map as a top literary journal. The late Alan Cheuse, “the voice of books” on National Public Radio for more than 25 years, described that issue as a “splendid inaugural.”

“I don’t know that I’ve seen, in fact, a first issue of a magazine or journal with such a high-quality list of contributors, and such good work by them, since the old early days of some of the best magazines we know, Partisan Review, Paris Review and such,” he wrote.

In the years since then, national prize anthologies The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize, New Stories from the South, and Best of the West, have selected 12 stories from The Idaho Review for reprint. The same anthologies have short-listed another 28 of the journal’s stories.

The Idaho Review has published work by some of the greatest living writers, including Joy Williams, T.C. Boyle, Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Ann Beattie, Carolyn Cooke, Rick Bass, Percival Everett, Doris Betts, Anthony Doerr, Richard Bausch, Edith Pearlman, Charles Baxter and Pam Houston. While they were still MFA students, the journal published the early stories of Jennifer Haigh and Benjamin Percy – now both successful authors.

The Idaho Review has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Boise State.

“At a time when many administrations have shuttered literary journals, Boise State continued to champion The Idaho Review’s cause. This unflagging support has allowed the journal to focus its attention on publishing the best work it can find,” said Wieland.