Saturday, March 3, 2018

What the Judges Had to Say About Elizabeth Strout's Anything Is Possible

photo © Beowulf Sheehan
When the three judges for The Story Prize make their choices, they provide citations for the books. This year's judges were Susan Minot, Walton Muyumba, and Stephanie Sendaula. We include the citations in congratulatory letters we present to each finalist, along with their checks ($20,000 to the winner, $5,000 to the other two finalists). To protect the confidentiality of the judges' votes and the integrity of the process, we don't attribute citations to any particular judge.
“Elizabeth Strout is a bewitching writer. What does she do that is so stunning? Her stories are quiet and straightforward and then they thwack you on the back of your head. The intelligent prose is seemingly humble but elegant in its subtlety and enchanting in its overall effect. Her wit has such a sharp blade you barely feel it until after the slice. She is a specialist in the reticence of people, and her characters are compelling because of the complexity of their internal lives, and the clarity with which that complexity is depicted. It is a sublime pleasure to read her, whether she draws you into a relatively undramatic scenario or a situation in which the stakes are high. Elizabeth Strout weaves her tales gracefully and you don’t know how deep she is going until you are suddenly overcome. She makes you feel. And then she makes you think, about nothing less than who we are and how we live our lives.”

“Anything is Possible is one of those books that stays with you long after you've finished reading. Strout has a gift with words, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the lives of her rural Illinois characters. Each of them leaves a haunting and lasting impression, from the Barton siblings to the Nicely sisters. A worthwhile collection on love, loss, family, and the concept of home.”