Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Story Prize Longlist for Short Story Collections Published in 2020


Not pictured: Animal Spirit by Francesca Marciano

In 2020, The Story Prize received as entries 121 books published by 82 publishers or imprints. We choose the shortlist of three finalists first, then release our longlist a few weeks later. The three finalistsThe Story Prize Spotlight Award winner, and the longlist combined highlight 24 books this time. Because of the high number of entries last year, we're including a few more books than usual. Here then is our longlist of 20 outstanding short story collections (links are to guest Instagram posts):

  • Aligator by Dima Alzayat (Two Dollar Radio)
  • Why Visit America by Matthew Baker (Henry Holt and Company)
  • Daddy by Emma Cline (Random House)
  • Heartland Calamitous by Michael Credico (Autumn House Press)
  • If The Body Allows It by Megan Cummins (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford (Grove Press)
  • The Prince of Mournful Thoughts by Caroline Kim (University of Pittsburgh Press)
  • Animal Spirit by Francesa Marciano (Pantheon Books)
  • Cool for America by Andrew Martin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Why I Don't Write by Susan Minot (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • The World Doesn't Work That Way, but It Could by Xyta Maya Murray (University of Nevada Press)
  • Sleepovers by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips (Hub City Writers Project)
  • Last One Out Shut Off the Lights by Stephanie Soileau (Little, Brown and Company)
  • You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South (FSG Originals)
  • And I Do Not Forgive You by Amber Sparks (Liveright Publishing)
  • A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy (Algonquin Books)
  • How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa (Little, Brown and Company)
  • I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita (Coffee House Press)
  • Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch (Riverhead Books)

Copies of these short story collections are available through our list 2020/21 Story Prize finalists, Spotlight Award winner, and long list books on Bookshop. We've also posted a shopping list of all the short story collections we received as entries in 2020.

Although 2020 was by no means a great year overall, it was a great year for short story collections, and more than a dozen other books could easily have made this list. It's always difficult to narrow the field down, and it seems to get harder every year.
Writing, assembling, and publishing a short story collection takes years of creative effort and remarkable perseverance. Every writer who published one in 2020 truly accomplished something significant and deserves an enormous amount of credit.

We'll announce the winner of The Story Prize on March 10, at which time we'll post a video that will feature readings by and interviews with the three finalists: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Danielle Evans, and Deesha Philyaw.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Inheritors by Asako Serizawa Is the Winner of The Story Prize Spotlight Award

Beyond naming three finalists each January, we also present The Story Prize Spotlight Award to a collection of exceptional merit. Selected books can be promising works by first-time authors, collections in alternative formats, or works that demonstrate an unusual perspective on the writer's craft. The award includes a prize of $1,000. 

We're pleased to announce that the winner for books published in 2020 is Inheritors by Asako Serizawa, published by Doubleday. It's a debut collection of thirteen formally inventive, beautifully written, and sometimes heartbreaking stories about five generations of a Japanese family.      

Photo: Matthew Modica
You can find links to by all nine books, including Serizawa's, on Bookshop, in the list Winners of The Story Prize Spotlight Award.

We'll announce the winner of The Story Prize on March 10, at which time we'll post a video that will feature readings by and interviews with the three finalists: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Danielle Evans, and Deesha Philyaw. Before then, we'll post a long list of short story collections published in 2020.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The 2020/21 Finalists for The Story Prize Are: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Danielle Evans, and Deesha Philyaw

The Story Prize, now in its 17th year, is pleased to honor as its finalists three outstanding short story collections chosen from 121 submissions representing 89 different publishers or imprints. They are*:

We will announce the winner on the evening of Wednesday, March 10, at which time The Story Prize will post a video including readings by and interviews with finalists Bynum, Evans, and Philyaw, as well as the announcement of the winner and acceptance of the $20,000 top prize and the engraved silver bowl that goes with it. The runners-up will each receive $5,000. 

Story Prize Founder Julie Lindsey and Director Larry Dark selected the finalists. Three independent judges will determine the winner:

  • Writer and Critic Ismail Muhammad,
  • Independent Bookseller Margot Sage-EL, and
  • Author Karen Shepard

In the weeks ahead, we'll announce this year's winner of The Story Prize Spotlight Award. We'll also publish a long list of other exceptional collections we read last year, and more information about the video we'll be posting in lieu of a live event.

* Links for book titles are to Bookshop.org. Links for author names are to guest Instagram posts.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The 2020 Story Prize Judges: Ismail Muhammad, Margot Sage-EL, and Karen Shepard

Clockwise from top left: Ismail Muhammad, Margot Sage-EL,
and Karen Shepard (photo by Barry Goldstein)

We're pleased to announce this year's judges for The Story Prize: writer and critic Ismail Muhammad, bookseller Margot Sage-EL, and writer Karen Shepard.

Each year we enlist three independent members of the literary community to select the winner of The Story Prize from among the three finalists that Founder Julie Lindsey and Director Larry Dark choose from among the typically more than 100 short story collections submitted for the prize. We alternate years between having a bookseller or a librarian as a judge. At least one of the judges is a writer and the other is often a critic or editor.

The final deadline for 2020 entries is November 16. We will announce the three finalists in early January 2021. 

To view more than 50 guest Instagram posts by writers who have published short story collections in 2020, go to instagram.com/thestoryprize/.

About the Judges

Ismail Muhammad is a writer and critic based in Oakland, California. He works as the criticism editor of The Believer, and his writing has appeared in The Nation, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications.

Margot Sage-EL is the owner of Watchung Booksellers, an independent bookseller serving the greater Montclair, New Jersey, community since 1996. She founded Great Owl Books in 1994, a Parents' Choice Award mail order catalog featuring multicultural children's books. She has served on the board of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and on the ABA's Bookseller Advisory Council.

Karen Shepard is a Chinese-American born and raised in New York City. She is the author of four novels, An Empire of Women, The Bad Boy’s Wife, Don’t I Know You? and The Celestials, and one story collection, Kiss Me Someone. She teaches at Williams College.

Friday, May 1, 2020

In Response to the Pandemic, The Story Prize Is Waiving Entry Fees for 2020

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and its financial impact on writers and publishers, for 2020, The Story Prize is waiving its $75 entry fee. In addition, if conditions are such that it isn’t possible to send printed books, we will accept e-book only submissions. We do, however, reserve the right to not accept particular book entries.

Entry fees and revenue from ticket sales to The Story Prize event, which we split with our partner The New School Creative Writing Program, are our only sources of revenue to offset the costs of operating the award. They cover just a small but important portion of the funding for The Story Prize, all of which the Chisholm Foundation generously provides.

This sacrifice on our part pales in comparison to the efforts of first responders and essential workers—and to the illness and terrible losses many have suffered. We hope for better times ahead.

The mission of The Story Prize remains to encourage and promote the publication and reading of short story collections. Of course, we highly recommend the 16 short story collections we've honored as winners of The Story Prize and the 32 books we've named as finalists. We encourage you to support your local bookseller if you decide to purchase any of these books. Thanks to The New School Creative Writing Program, you can view on YouTube at no cost video of past events, including readings by and interviews with most of the writers we've been fortunate to honor.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Video of The Story Prize Event: Edwidge Danticat (winner), Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and Zadie Smith

Here's the video of The Story Prize event, featuring the three finalists—Edwidge Danticat (the winner), Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and Zadie Smith—reading from and discussing their work:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

What The Story Prize Judges Had to Say About This Year's Winner, Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

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 writer and librarian Kristen Arnett, publisher Andy Hunter, and writer Tiphanie Yanique. 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.

Here what the judges had to say about Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat:
“The stories contained in Everything Inside are powerfully written. They are rooted in place and in family. From beginning to end, I found myself spellbound by the care taken with character. Relationships between parent and child, between neighbors and coworkers, and between created families: These bonds were so incredibly, carefully rendered. Love beginning and ending. Life beginning and ending. The way that Edwidge Danticat writes about place—specifically Miami and Haiti—left me feeling as though I were seeing something for the first time. We are all lucky such an important voice is in the world, creating such tender work.”
 “It is something to see a writer whose previous work is already canonical write a story collection with the fierce desperation and love usually seen in first books. But Danticat is not one of our regular writers, she is a harking angel. She comes to tell us that the world is new, again and again, and that stories will not lose their urgency, their necessity. These stories zoom from the globality of immigration and natural disaster, to see the human being beneath the news stories and the humanity within each tragedy. Death is a major theme of these stories, and hope does not always prevail, but there remains a belief in human dignity and the importance of acknowledging the humanity in others. This shows in Danticat's choice of words but most often in her choice of narrator—not a spurned wife, but the daughter who never knew her father; not an earthquake survivor, but his lover. Danticat is a cherished writer for lovers of fiction and this book will also be cherished by lovers of politics, sociology and well, lovers of human beings.”