Monday, April 11, 2011

The Story Prize Finalists Are Racking up the Honors

When Story Prize winners or finalists achieve other honors, we're always happy for them. We're pleased on a personal level because we get to know and like these authors. Further honors also reaffirm our choices. And we hope that the books that are finalists for or win The Story Prize get into as many readers' hands as possible. Every honor helps in that regard.

So I was excited when Anthony Doerr, who just won The Story Prize, also won the the £30,000* Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award for "The Deep." The story first appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story's Fall 2010 issue** and is in the April 10 edition of the Sunday Times Magazine.** Of course, I would have been equally excited if Yiyun Li, who was also a finalist for the Sunday Times Award, had won.

As it happens, this year's finalists have been racking up the honors since we held The Story Prize event on March 2. Yiyun Li and Suzanne Rivecca were also up for the Northern California Book Awards on Apr. 10. Suzanne was a finalist for PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction, is a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award (even though she's more of a tiger person), and also won a Rome fellowship in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.***

If there's any downside to our finalists and winners achieving other honors it's that certain prizes can overshadow† The Story Prize—but not too many of them, in our view. The Pulitzer Prize is one, and will announce its winners and finalists on April 18. Nonetheless, if Tony, Yiyun, or Suzanne win, we'll be very happy for them. Plus, one real test of a book award is how well its winners and finalists hold up over time, and winning other awards increases the chances that this will happen.

* The equivalent of $49,155 at current exchange rates. Though this eclipses the $20,000 top prize for The Story Prize, we've been mentioned in all of the press coverage and at least have the advantage of a decidedly more succinct name than The Sunday Times EFG Bank Short Story Award.
** It is not one of the stories in Memory Wall, The Story Prize winning collection. For now, you have to buy one-day access to the Sunday Times site for $2 or purchase the back issue of Zoetrope for $8 to read "The Deep." Coincidentally, that same issue of Zoetrope included a story by Mary Swan, whose "The Deep" was the first-prize winner in Prize Stories 2001: The O. Henry Awards. In that volume, 2006 Story Prize winner Mary Gordon introduced Swan's story. 
*** Anthony Doerr is a past winner.
† By this, I mean that it could supplant mention of The Story Prize on book covers and in author biographies.