Wednesday, March 10, 2021

What The Story Prize Judges Had to Say About Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

When the three judges for The Story Prize make their choices, they provide citations for the books. This year's judges were critic and writer Ismail Muhammad, Margot Sage-EL of Watchung Booksellers, and writer and Williams College professor Karen Shepard. 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 Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum:
“These stories take on the biggest issues of utterly realistic worlds—parents and children, race and class in America, marriage, the paralyzing nature of anxiety, victims and perpetrators—without ever forgetting that they are fiction, meant to prioritize the possibilities of language and story. Bynum envelops us in story-worlds where the ordinary is rendered unfamiliar, disorienting us in the most useful ways. The banal becomes remarkable, the fantastic an ordinary part of our daily lives. It’s as if a tiny hole has been ripped in the fabric of our world, and through it, we spy not just our doomed and flawed selves, but also how extraordinary and heartbreaking and worth saving we are.”  

Watch a video that includes a reading by and conversation with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and the other two finalists for The Story Prize, including winner Deesha Philyaw.