Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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About the Editor


Each story in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 contains its own world. The late Hortense Calisher called the short story "an apocalypse in a teacup," a definition that points to an important element in the story: the threat, sometimes fulfilled, of the destruction or undermining of that world.

In some stories in our 2013 collection, it is a heart that takes a beating, as in Alice Munro's "Leaving Maverley." In others, it's an idea a character has about herself, as in Ann Beattie's "Anecdotes," whose narrator learns when to stop doing favors. Tash Aw's "Sail" is about a global emptiness the main character carries inside, and there's destruction of several varieties in "The History of Girls" by Ayşe Papatya Bucak, "Pérou" by Lily Tuck, "Your Duck Is My Duck" by Deborah Eisenberg, and L. Annette Binder's "Lay My Head." Even in a story that seems more antic than apocalyptic, Kelly Link's "The Summer People," the world is altered beyond retrieval. A story that lacks the convincing threat of change simply doesn't work.

While you are reading a really good story, you are caught in its world whether you like it or not, as trapped as Donald Antrim's characters in "He Knew," making their odyssey up elegant Madison Avenue, and as the warring scientists on Andrea Barrett's ship of fools in "The Particles." Each reading of The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013 uncovers another aspect of the transformative change that we look for in fiction.

It's my hope that you'll read these twenty wonderful stories and enjoy in each the tension and beauty that is the hallmark of the short story.

Laura Furman
West Lake Hills, Texas
September 2013
(Copyright © 2013 Laura Furman)

Read Laura Furman's introduction to The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012.

Read previous editor's notes from:
(photo © Ave Bonar)


Laura Furman was born in New York, and educated in New York City public schools and at Bennington College. Her first story appeared in The New Yorker in 1976, and since then her work has appeared in Yale Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, American Scholar, and other magazines. Her books include three collections of short stories, two novels, and a memoir. She's the recipient of fellowships from the New York State Council on the Arts, Dobie Paisano Project, Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Series Editor of The O. Henry Prize Stories since 2002, she taught for many years at the University of Texas at Austin. Her new collection of stories, The Mother Who Stayed, was published in 2011.