Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scenes from The Story Prize Event: Suzanne Rivecca, Anthony Doerr, and Yiyun Li

Finalists Suzanne Rivecca, Anthony Doerr, and Yiyun Li at the reception
We endeavor to make The Story Prize event a celebration of the short story form, and the three finalists—Anthony Doerr, Yiyun Li, and Suzanne Rivecca—were totally in the spirit of that yesterday. Even though one person is ultimately singled out, our intention is to honor all three authors equally until the moment of that announcement. Tony, Yiyun, and Suzanne were extraordinarily gracious and forthcoming in discussing their work. And all were great fun earlier in the day and at the reception afterwards, as well as being congenial and supportive of one another, as the photo above shows.

They also had a lot of interesting things to say.

Anthony Doerr, for instance, in answer to a question about the preponderance of older women in Memory Wall, talked about how his grandmother, who had Alzheimer's disease, came to live with his family when he was in high school and how, in his teenage self-absorption, he had been somewhat oblivious to her condition.

Yiyun Li discussed how her characters stubbornly resist being swept along by the tide of history—even though that often results in loneliness and isolation rather than the easy gratification and happiness that conformity can bring.

And Suzanne Rivecca revealed how a PBS show about Walt Whitman's first-hand experience of slavery when he traveled to New Orleans in 1848 and a trip her father had taken to the South in the 1960s, together spurred her to write a novel about Whitman's sojourn.

Thank you again, Tony, Yiyun, and Suzanne!

More pictures and links to coverage of the event will follow here, on our Web site, and via Twitter. And in a week or so, we'll post video of the evening

photo © Eric Richards