Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Story Prize Longlist for Story Collections Published in 2021

Writing, assembling, and publishing a short story collection takes years of creative effort and remarkable perseverance. Every writer who published a collection in 2021 truly accomplished something significant and deserves an enormous amount of credit. Last year, The Story Prize received as entries 119 books published by 90 publishers or imprints. We choose the shortlist of three finalists first, then release our longlist a few weeks later. The three finalists, The Story Prize Spotlight Award winner, and the longlist combined highlight 20 books. Here then is our longlist of 16 outstanding short story collections (links are to Bookshop):

You Never Get It Back by Cara Blue Adams (University of Iowa Press)
The Ghost Variations by Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon)
Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen (Mariner)
Skinship by Yoon Choi (Alfred A. Knopf)
Gordo by Jaime Cortez (Black Cat)
Life Among the Terranauts by Caitlin Horrocks (Little, Brown)
Love Like Water, Love Like Fire by Mikhail Iossel (Bellevue Literary Press)
My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (Henry Holt)
The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken (Ecco Press)
Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove Press)
The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World)
King of the Animals by Josh Russell (Louisiana State University Press)
American Estrangement by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh (W.W. Norton)
Are You Enjoying? by Mira Sethi (Alfred A. Knopf)
Attrib. by Eley Williams (Anchor Books)
Monster in the Middle by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books)

We've posted a Bookshop list of all the story collections that we received as entries in 2021. It was a great year for short story collections, and more than 20 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. 

We also want to recognize several excellent books by accomplished short story writers published in 2021: The Glassy Burning, Floor of Hell by Brian Evenson, Big Dark Hole by Jeffrey Ford, The Uncollected Stories of Allan Gurganus, The (Other) You by Joyce Carol Oates, Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri, Excuse Me While I Disappear by Joanna Scott, Look for Me and I'll Be Gone by John Edgar Wideman, and Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket by Hilma Wolitzer. 

Two other collections published in 2021 that weren't eligible for The Story Prize are also worth noting: Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So, who sadly died before his acclaimed debut collection was published, and Festival Days by Jo Ann Beard, a remarkable hybrid that includes a mix of short stories and essays. 

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

Born Into This by Adam Thompson Is the Winner of The Story Prize Spotlight Award

Beyond naming three finalists each year, 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 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 2021/22 Finalists for The Story Prize Are Lily King, J. Robert Lennon, and Brandon Taylor

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:

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King (Grove Press)
Let Me Think by J. Robert Lennon (Graywolf Press)  
Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor
We will announce the winner of The Story Prize on the evening of Wednesday, April 13, at a private event featuring readings by and interviews with finalists King, Lennon, and Taylor, 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. We plan to live stream the event starting at 7:30 p.m. and will post a link before then and a video the next day. 

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.