Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the O. Henry Prize-winning authors free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Daniel Alarcón
2010 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

This kind of recognition is always a happy surprise, and an honor. It's especially gratifying because I always thought of "The Bridge" as a story far too long to be published, much less read and the recognized this way. I read the O. Henry Prize collections with special interest when I was a student at Iowa, and I remember very clearly the sense of discovery when I came across an author really pushing the characters, or an idea, to the fullest expression. Some of my favorite contemporary writers I read first in these collections, so it's an honor to be included now.

(author photo © Vanadis Phumpiú)

Writing Tips

There are different kinds of writing, different ways to stimulate the mind, but for me, if I'm not actually sitting in front of the computer typing, it's all just practice. At this point, the keyboard has become an extension of my brain, and I'm not sure when this happened, or if there's anything to be done about it. There is probably something lost in this dependence, and it makes travel pretty frustrating, though I compensate by constantly taking notes and jotting down ideas and recounting dialogue I've heard and marveled at. Still, when I'm away from my desk for long stretches, or too busy with life's distractions to find quiet, what I miss most is the pleasure of typing. I miss the fluidity of it, the effortlessness, the way the words appear on the screen almost magically, and how everything is seemingly under your control.

About the Author

Daniel Alarcón was born in Lima, Peru, in 1977. He is Associate Editor of Etiqueta Negra, an award-winning monthly magazine published in his native city. He is the author of Lost City Radio, which won the 2008 PEN/USA Novel Award. His most recent story collection, El rey siempre está por encima del pueblo, has been published throughout Latin America. He lives in Oakland, California.

Writer's Desk

  • I tend to work on a bunch of things at once, to fight off boredom, and keep everything fresh. Or maybe it's just a sophisticated way of procrastinating, I'm not really sure. I'm finishing up a graphic novel version of an old story of mine, "City of Clowns," with artist Sheila Alvarado. I'm also writing an in-depth piece on book piracy in Peru, another on my experiences teaching in a prison in Lima, and of course, entering the third year of a novel, a process which has unfolded slowly, sometimes painfully, but the simple fact that I haven't given up makes me happy.

  • Writer's Desk

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