Jhumpa Lahiri has won the Frank O’Connor award, the world’s richest award for a short story collection, for Unaccustomed Earth. In an unusual move, the judges declined to name a shortlist and just went straight from the longlist to naming her the winner. According to the Guardian, the award’s director, Pat Cotter, said that “no other title was a serious contender.” If I were on that longlist (which includes Anne Enright, Roddy Doyle, Jim Shepard, and Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff, which has been on my own to-be-read list for a while), I might feel a little insulted.
Then again, the point of the award is to call attention to short story collections, and this move has certainly done that. I’m a huge fan of short stories, and I don’t think they get nearly enough attention. One of my favorites is Harper Perennial’s own Twenty Grand, which you can check out below.
According to the New York Observer, Random House will soon publish a posthumous short story collection from William Styron, featuring some never-before-published work. His agent says the stories are mostly about soldiers returning home from war, a truly relevant topic also tackled recently in the movie Stop-Loss and in an especially searing episode of Intervention, my favorite show.
There’s also a great essay about William Styron by his daughter Alexandra in the new book Brooklyn Was Mine, an anthology of essays about (duh) Brooklyn.
Argh! One of the downsides of publishing is that we’re always working far, far ahead. Right now I’m working on the copy for our summer 2009 catalog (yes, that would be a full year from now) and getting super excited about an upcoming author. Reading just the first page of one of her short stories completely took my breath away; the writing was so beautiful, so wise, so honest. Googling her turned up this piece about her wedding in the New York Times that also moved me. Remember this name: Lydia Peelle. She’s won an O.Henry, two Pushcart Prizes, and been featured in Best New American Voices (twice), and come summer 2009 she’s going to be big.
Check out the latest issue of Granta, “The New Nature Writing,” for a short story by Lydia Peelle, an upcoming Harper Perennial author I wrote about here.