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New Audio Story: ‘Rioja,’ by Shannon Sanders

photo of COMPANY author Shannon Sanders

Hello friends,

This week on Ursa Short Fiction, we’re thrilled to present a new audio story, “Rioja,” written by Shannon Sanders and performed by Khaya Fraites. It was originally published in the literary magazine SLICE, and it’s forthcoming in Sanders’s debut collection COMPANY, to be published by Graywolf Press in October 2023. 

In this story we meet Cole, who is taking his girlfriend Cecilia to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by his Aunt Peach. It’s Cecilia’s first introduction to the family, and though the encounters seem pleasant on the surface, secrets, family history, and resentment run deep beneath them. 

Listen to “Rioja,” then stick around at the end for Sanders, in her own words, on the origins of the story:

“This story really deals with the idea of cultural inheritance. So I’m really interested in how each generation has the potential to build on what the previous generation did. And there’s always the chance that we’ll do it way better than the previous generation did, learning from their mistakes. But there’s also kind of this compulsion to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation, and there’s just some legacies that are really, really hard to shake.”

Reading List: Books, Stories, and Authors Mentioned

About the Author

Shannon Sanders’s debut short story collection, COMPANY, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in October 2023; her short fiction has won the PEN/Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers and can be found in One Story, Electric Literature, Joyland, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. Find her at or on Twitter at @ShandersWrites.

About the Narrator

Khaya Fraites is a voice and film actor/writer based in New York City. Her recent credits include “Rainbow High,” the animated series, and “RIP, LOL,” the short film she wrote based on her upcoming novel of the same name. For more about Khaya, visit her website at or keep up with her on Instagram and TikTok @khayafraites.

Read More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


Story Credits

‘Rioja,’ written by Shannon Sanders

Performed by Khaya Fraites 

Directed by Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong

Associate producer: Marina Leigh

Executive producers: Dawnie Walton & Mark Armstrong

Additional production support by Ashawnta Jackson

Music: “The Doubt,” by Francesco D’Andrea

Author photo by David F. Choy.


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