The three judges for The Story Prize have the task of choosing the winner from among the three short story collections we choose as finalists. We're pleased to announce this year's judges, Adam Dalva, Danielle Evans, and Miwa Messer.
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Friday, April 15, 2022
Thursday, April 14, 2022
|© 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 Dev Aujla, critic, writer, and librarian David Kipen, and writer Kirstin Valdez Quade. 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's what the judges had to say:
“Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor is a linked collection of quiet stories that resound with tenderness and insight. Taylor is incredibly attuned to the slightest shift in the emotional weather in his characters and writes with absolute precision and compassion about their desires, vulnerabilities, failings, joys, and longings. His careful attention makes these very ordinary people extraordinary. His sentences are finely tuned, his language subtle and gorgeous. Filthy Animals is an unforgettable collection and an affecting portrait of a community.”
“In the first pages of the book, Lionel, one of the main characters explains his experience of showing up at a potluck with a new group of people as having ‘no way of getting inside the reference of the system.’ Brandon Taylor’s collection of short stories builds a world and provides that reference that the character in the book was seeking.
“The writing feels like it has a familiarity with the narrative arcs of physical choreography. That it knows not only dance but how physical bodies moving throughout time can craft a story as rich as the one crafted by words. Bodies are being pushed to do things that are uncomfortable and fulfilling often in the same act. How far do we push? What boundaries do we transgress? What expectations do we choose to accept and carry ourselves and which ones do we just let go?
“The book deals with voids that are often created from hurt, loss, or expectation and then charts characters' paths to fill or make sense of them. It is the very brokenness that is present that is the most human, that is the most true to the universal in Brandon Taylor’s writing. How does one fix this feeling—with people, with sex, on quiet walks home, with space, and sometimes with nothingness. One of the character's describes this attraction as ‘…there is something good and wounded about him.’
“Brandon Taylor takes on this search, sometimes resolving itself but other times making you question, turn away, and immediately turn back to the page and continue. He uses the stories to challenge and to push deeper through different perspectives, different lives so that when you put down the book and walk into the world you feel like you can see through people’s full selves. You see, as if for the first time, people’s needs unfulfilled, moments of brokenness, and their actions and lives simply as a way of putting it all back together.”
|© 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 Dev Aujla, critic, writer, and librarian David Kipen, and writer Kirstin Valdez Quade. 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's what the judges had to say about Let Me Think by J. Robert Lennon:
“In 1970, when Mr. and Mrs. Lennon brought their infant son home from a Pennsylvania hospital, it was already child abuse to name him John. Perhaps not surprisingly, John Robert Lennon grew up to become American fiction's premier measurer of the distance by which reality falls shy of perfection. He is our very own poet of the not-quite. In ‘The Museum of Near Misses,’ the umpteenth excruciatingly funny short story in Let Me Think, a narrator named J. Robert Lennon happens into a museum where the presidential election of 2016 has apparently gone a different way. There is simply no justice if this story doesn't win the 2021 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. (A real thing, by the way—but one for which, alas, recent reality is sadly ineligible.)
“Some of the stories in Let Me Think are so brief that including them almost makes the book shorter. Nano-vignettes like the title story, which first appeared in Barrelhouse, know more about family and parenthood than any pallet-load of humorless pop-psychology sludge. Some readers will follow the recurring couple at the heart of Lennon's ‘Marriage’ stories—who bicker over, for instance, the husband's suddenly suspicious lack of exclamation points in texts to his wife—and fight the urge to sweep their house for listening devices.
“As a critic once wrote of Lennon's hysterical, strikingly well-plotted novel The Funnies, the author is ‘fresh without reaching, funny without stooping.’ Once in a while in Let Me Think, ‘fresh’ comes perilously close to ‘experimental’—but no, wait, come back! As Lennon's namesake once wrote of a more radical sort of experiment, ‘If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao/You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow.’ It's hard to say whom Lennon might be carrying pictures of. Barthelme? Nabokov? Roseanne Barr? Someday, aspiring writers may yet carry pictures of Lennon—and not the Liverpudlian one, either.
“In other words, please read Let Me Think.”
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 Dev Aujla, critic, writer, and librarian David Kipen, and writer Kirstin Valdez Quade. 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's what the judges had to say about Five Tuesdays in Winter (Grove Press) by Lily King:
“Each story in Five Tuesdays in Winter has the resonance of a novel, yet each also maintains the satisfying arc of a short story. Lily King’s language is beautiful and evocative without being showy and is always at the service of the story. Her ability to create empathy for her protagonists is, in many cases, skillfully wrought through the perspective of someone reckoning—often wistfully—with past events. These retrospective views don’t necessarily capture the most transformative moment in a person’s life, but they do capture powerful and telling experiences, the kind of memories, tinged with longing, we’re drawn to frequently.
“The last story, 'The Man at the Door,’ is a different kind of story entirely. It’s playful, inventive, funny, and at times scary—like another King, Stephen, filtered through a woman’s sensibility. But there’s also a seriousness to it. As Cyril Connolly famously stated: ‘There is no more somber enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.’ Easy for a man to say! Women writers live this experience. And that’s what connects ‘The Man at the Door’ to the other, tonally different stories that precede it—that sense of lives lived imperfectly, regrets and all, that Five Tuesdays in Winter so generously and consistently captures.”
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
|© Beowulf Sheehan|
Congratulations to Brandon Taylor, and to Riverhead Books!
Saturday, April 9, 2022
We're having a private award night this year instead of the larger public events we held at The New School for 15 years (before the novel coronavirus came along). And because the event is invitation only, we're planning to live-stream it on YouTube on Wednesday night.
Here's the link.
What you'll see and hear is the three finalists for The Story Prize for books published in 2021—Lily King, J. Robert Lennon, and Brandon Taylor—read from and discuss their short story collections before we announce the winner and present that writer with an engraved silver bowl and the top prize of $20,000. The other two honorees won't walk away empty handed; they each take home $5,000.
|Lily King, J. Robert Lennon, and Brandon Taylor|
Thursday, February 24, 2022
We'll announce the 18th winner of The Story Prize on April 13 at a private event that we'll livestream (details to come), featuring readings by and interviews with the three finalists—Lily King, J. Robert Lennon, and Brandon Taylor—followed by the announcement of the winner.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
We're pleased to announce that the winner for books published in 2021 is Born Into This by Adam Thompson, published by Two Dollar Radio. In these sixteen stories, Thompson examines and deconstructs the conflicts, dilemmas, and unexpected affinities that arise in the shadow of a past filled with atrocity and trauma. With a keen eye for action and conflict, Thompson tracks the lives of aboriginal and non-aboriginal characters as they negotiate the social and economic pressures of modern-day Tasmania. The legacy of oppression and genocide hangs like a dense cloud over this collection, but the stories focus just as much on the everyday aspects of the characters’ lives: silence, solitude, longing, neglect, escape, retribution, forgiveness, sacrifice, duty, and equanimity.
Adam Thompson is a pakana writer from Launceston, Tasmania. His work has been published by the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Kill Your Darlings, and Griffith Review—as well as appearing in several anthologies. Born Into This was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, The Age Book of the Year, and the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. He was named as Tasmanian Aboriginal Artist of the Year in 2019. Adam has written for performance art and television. His episode of Little J and Big Cuz (Shelter) is in Season 3 of the series and will be broadcast in early 2022. Adam is passionate about advancing the interests of the pakana community. He has worked for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre for more than 20 years.
This is the tenth time we've given out The Story Prize Spotlight Award. The nine previous winners were: Drifting House by Krys Lee, Byzantium by Ben Stroud, Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor, Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar, Subcortical by Lee Conell, Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy, The Trojan War Museum by Ayşe Papatya Bucak, and, most recently, Inheritors by Asako Serizawa.You can find links to all ten books, including Thompson's, on Bookshop, in the list Winners of The Story Prize Spotlight Award.We'll announce the winner of The Story Prize on April 13 at a private event, which we'll live stream, featuring readings by and interviews with the three finalists: Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King, Let Me Think by J. Robert Lennon, and Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor. And soon we'll post a long list of short story collections published in 2021.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
The Story Prize, now in its 18th year, is pleased to honor as its finalists three outstanding short story collections chosen from 119 submissions representing 90 different publishers or imprints. They are:
Story Prize Founder Julie Lindsey and Director Larry Dark selected the finalists. Three independent judges will determine the winner:
- Writer and librarian Dev Aujla,
- Critic, writer, and librarian David Kipen, and
- Author Kirstin Valdez Quade
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 information on how to watch the event.