Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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About the Editor


One of reading's greatest pleasures is being taken out of ourselves. For however long a story lasts, we willingly lose our homes, families, jobs, and every other thing anchoring us to the everyday. We become pure spirits and minds, involved in nothing but the world the writer has created.

This year's O. Henry Prize Stories take place all over the world--Australia, China, Switzerland, France, Malaysia, Canada, Ukraine, Ireland, the United States, and in an idyllic place extant only in the writer's imagination. Edward P. Jones has through his stories practically created a new nation of his native Washington, D.C., and "Bad Neighbors" takes its place among his best creations. Steven Millhauser's "A Change in Fashion" takes place on the planet of taste, its one definite locale a party in northwestern Connecticut.

The authors are spread in as many countries as their stories. Michel Faber, for example, whose "Bye-bye Natalia" takes place in Ukraine, lives in rural Scotland. Locale and authorial nationality are a way of showing that this year's collection doesn't include one type of story stylistically or in subject matter or setting. The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008 witnesses the variety and richness of the short-story form by releasing the willing reader into twenty new lives.

We're also introducing a new online feature this year. Each prize collection lists a small number of recommended stories, which we hope the reader will pursue. From now on, we'll include Author Spotlights highlighting the authors of the recommended stories and including a taste of each story. Of course, Author Spotlights with the O. Henry Prize-winning authors will also continue.

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008 has been a particular pleasure to edit. It's been fun tracking down the authors, soliciting interviews and bios, asking questions about the stories, and getting to know them by e-mail, or, in the case of one, by his neighbor's e-mail. It's my hope about every O. Henry collection that we fulfill the wish of those who founded it, "to strengthen the art of the short story," and in this edition to do so by demonstrating the range and reach of the form.

--Laura Furman
Austin, Texas
April 28, 2008
(Copyright © 2008 Laura Furman)

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(photo © Ave Bonar)