Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Meet The Story Prize Judges: Stephen Enniss, Antonya Nelson, and Rob Spillman

The Story Prize, now in its 10th year, is pleased to announce this year's judges: Stephen Enniss, Director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin; award-winning author Antonya Nelson; and Tin House Editor Rob Spillman. 

In January, Larry Dark, Director of The Story Prize, and Julie Lindsey, the Founder of the award, will select three story collections as finalists out of more than 90 entries. Judges Enniss, Nelson, and Spillman will read those three books and decide the winner of the $20,000 top prize—still the most of any annual U.S. book award for fiction. We will announce the three finalists in January, along with the second ever winner of The Story Prize Spotlight Award. At the end of an evening of readings by and interviews with the finalists on March 5, 2014, at The New School in New York City, we will announce the winning book and author.

The National Book Awards made news earlier this year when it announced that it was expanding its judging panels beyond groups of authors. The Story Prize, from its inception ten years ago, has included judges from a variety of fields associated with short fiction, including: writers, editors, booksellers, librarians, critics, journalists, and academics.* Why? Because a book award serves its readers, and while, in our case, that includes those who write story collections, it also includes many others who are avid readers and support the form.


Stephen Enniss is Director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has responsibility for 42 million literary manuscripts, nearly one million rare books, five million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art. He previously served as Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library and, before that, Director of Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. He held a Leverhulme Fellowship at the Institute of English Studies at the University of London. In 2005, he co-curated the Grolier Club exhibition: “No Other Appetite: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Blood Jet of Poetry." He is currently completing a biography, After the Titanic: A Life of Derek Mahon.

Antonya Nelson is the author of four novels, including Bound and six short story collections, including Nothing Right. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook, and many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. She is the recipient of a USA Artists Award in 2009, the 2003 Rea Award for Short Fiction, as well as NEA and Guggenheim Fellowships, and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program, as well as in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. She lives in Telluride, Colorado; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Houston.

Rob Spillman is editor and co-founder of Tin House, a fifteen-year-old bi-coastal (Brooklyn and Portland, Oregon) literary magazine. Tin House has been honored in Best American Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, O. Henry Prize Stories, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. His writing has appeared in BookForum, GQ, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Rolling Stone, Salon, Spin, Vanity Fair, and Vogue, among other magazines, newspapers, and essay collections. He is also the editor of Gods and Soldiers: the Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing, which was published in 2009.

* Past judges have been: Authors: Sherman Alexie, Andrea Barrett, Dan Chaon, Edwidge Danticat, David Gates, A.M. Homes, Yiyun Li, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Hannah Tinti. Booksellers: Ann Christophersen, Marie du Vaure, Mitchell Kaplan, Sarah McNally, and Rick Simonson. Librarians: Patricia Groh, Bill Kelly, and Nancy Pearl. Editors: John Freeman, Brigid Hughes, Daniel Menaker, and Meghan O'Rourke. Book bloggers: Ron Hogan and Carolyn Kellogg. Critics: Jane Ciabattari and James Wood. Professor Breon Mitchell and reading series curator Louise Steinman (both with library affiliations).