Friday, July 23, 2010

Author Posts on TSP: So Far, So Very Good

We're at the halfway point of our entry period, having received 49 story collections as entries for The Story Prize as of the July 15 deadline for books published in the first half of 2010. The deadline for books published July through December is November 15.
Just some of the collections so far entered for The Story Prize
We're not nearly halfway through our ambitious plan to dedicate a post to each book, having run 18 posts so far. But we have several more lined up and promised. The form the posts have generally taken has either been a short essay by or a Q&A with the author. And we'll write our own posts about the books for which we don't get author contributions.

The aim of The Story Prize, of course, is to promote the short story form. Our efforts in past years have focused on the three books we choose as finalists each year and the six books our judges have chosen as winners. But we've always wanted to do more to promote our objective. We added a long list of other notable books the second year because more good collections come out each year than we can honor. But even our long list isn't long enough. So we decided to use this modest platform to shine the spotlight on every book we read and consider. Many of these books (I'd hazard to say most of them) get far less attention than they deserve.

I was, admittedly, reluctant to do this at first. I'm always concerned about remaining neutral, not wanting to reveal what we think of individual collections until we announce our finalists and long list in January. But neutrality hasn't turned out to be a problem with the posts. The introduction for each is short and straightforward; we're letting the authors' words speak for themselves rather than hype the books. And because we're posting about each one, we can remain evenhanded.

What has been surprising to me has been how consistently interesting these posts have been. Our contributors' insights into their own process, what interests them, and how their collections took shape reveal just how different and personal each writer's approach is. What they have in common is a sense of being attuned to the world and a desire to make something that reflects and amplifies their unique sensibilities.

Thanks to the thoughtful essays and answers the authors have provided, we're beginning to amass a good resource for readers, students, and writers interested in the short story form. We're only going to build on that in the months ahead. So stay tuned.