shining the spotlight on short story collections
The Frank O’Connor Award shortlist has been revealed. At 35,000 euro, this is the biggest prize in the world for a short story collection, and previous winners include Haruki Murakami, Miranda July, Jhumpa Lahiri and Yiyun Li.
From this year’s 57-strong longlist of collections, the three-judge panel picked the following six collections – passing over big names such as Ali Smith, Kazuo Ishiguro, Orange Prize winner Chimanda Ngozi Adiche, Mary Gaitskill and James Lasdun and Sana Krasikov.
An Elegy for Easterly
by Petina Gappah (Faber, UK)
Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University, and the University of Zimbabwe. Her short fiction and essays have been published in eight countries.
by Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, New Zealand)
Charlotte Grimshaw’s first novel was described as ‘New Zealand noir’. Grimshaw has contributed short fiction to anthologies, was awarded the 2006 Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award, and published her first short story collection in 2007. Titled Opportunity, this collection was also short-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.
Ripples and other Stories
by Shih-Li Kow (Silverfish Books, Malaysia)
Shih-Li Kow was born in Kuala Lumpur. Her stories have been published in the anthologies, News from Home and Silverfish New Writing 7. Sh-li Kow holds a degree in chemical engineering.
The Pleasant Light of Day
by Philip O Ceallaigh (Penguin Ireland.)
Philip O Ceallaigh has lived and worked at a variety of jobs in Ireland, Spain, Russia, the United States, Kosovo and Georgia. He has lived mostly in Bucharest since 2000 where among other things he translates English subtitles for Romanian films. He has won the Glen Dimplex Award and the Rooney Prize for his first short story collection Notes from A Turkish Whorehouse which was also shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award in 2006.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
by Wells Tower (FSG New York and Granta UK)
Wells Tower’s short stories and journalism have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, The Washington Post Magazine, and elsewhere. He received two Pushcart Prizes and the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review. He divides his time between Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Brooklyn, New York.
Love Begins in Winter
by Simon Van Booy (Harper Perennial New York)
Simon Van Booy was born in London and grew up in rural Wales and Oxford. After playing football in Kentucky, he lived in Paris and Athens. In 2002 he was awarded an MFA and won the H.R. Hays Poetry Prize. Van Booy is the author of The Secret Lives of People in Love. He lives in New York City.
This is a varied bunch geographically and in terms of experienced writers (two previously shortlisted for this prize) versus debutantes, yet not so varied in terms of small presses versus mainstream publishers – it would have been nice for a small-press-published collection to make the shortlist. Before accusations fly, yes, I am a small-press-published author and my collection was on the longlist! But with my editor’s hat on, I know that many excellent collections have been published by small presses in the past year, because I have reviewed a number of them. Next year, perhaps?
The winner will be announced in Cork on September 20th at the closing ceremony of the tenth Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival. Before that, we have the winner of the Edge Hill Prize – which features one small-press-published short story collection on its five-book shortlist – to look forward to on Saturday July 4th. Good luck to all!