|(L to R) Merve Emre, Allison Escoto, and Tania James|
Each year The Story Prize enlists three judges to choose the winner from among the three short story collections we select as finalists and annunce in January. In alternating years one of the judges is bookseller and one is a librarian. One judge is always a short story writer, and the third can be a critic, editor, or academic.
The judges who will choose the 20th winner of The Story Prize in March 2024 are critic and writer Merve Emre, head librarian at The Center for Fiction Allison Escoto, and novelist and short story writer Tania James. We didn't aim to have all three judges be women. It just turned out that this was the best group of judges we felt we could assemble this year—a pretty impressive bunch.
Merve Emre is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and Criticism at Wesleyan University and the Director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing and Criticism. Her books include Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, The Personality Brokers (selected as one of the best books of 2018 by The New York Times, The Economist, NPR, and The Spectator), The Ferrante Letters (winner of the 2021 PROSE award for literature), and The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway. She has been awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize, the Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism, and the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle. She is a contributing writer at The New Yorker.
Allison Escoto is the head librarian and director of education at The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn. She has worked as a librarian for more than twenty years in various libraries in and around New York City. She also reviews books for Booklist and serves on the ALA RUSA Notables committee. From 2017-2020, she was the Associate Editor for Newtown Literary Journal, a publication dedicated to featuring writers from her beloved Queens.
Tania James is the author of four works of fiction, most recently Loot (Knopf), which was longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award in fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Freeman’s; Granta; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; and One Story, among other places, and featured on Symphony Space Selected Shorts. An associate professor of English in the MFA program at George Mason University, she lives in Washington, D.C.