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 authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Kevin Barry
"A Cruelty"
2017 O. Henry Award-winning Author

I've been aware of the O. Henry for as long as I can remember—it's a prize that's mentioned on so many books by so many of my favorite story writers, and it's a great thrill now to find myself among their ranks.

(author photo © Martina Kenji)

Writing Tips

I think I write short stories out of a congenital impatience—you can find yourself with a finished object on your desk very quickly, and that's very attractive compared to the long slog of a novel. And I do write them quickly, mostly inside a week or two, and they often come in quick succession, or in spasms. Nothing for a year or two, and then suddenly two or three or four new stories inside a couple of months. I suspect that in some ways the short story is a kind of musical form. I think every story has an inherent tune or melody, and you're just trying to pick it out, sentence by sentence, line by line, as you write. I'm very devoted to the story form as a craft but weirdly, the longer you've been writing them, the less you seem to know. Story-writing is a very mysterious and unknowable business.

Writer's Desk

A new novel is on the boards. And I've just finished a play called "Night Boat To Tangier."

About the Author

Kevin Barry was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1969. He is the author of the story collections Dark Lies The Island and There Are Little Kingdoms, and the novels Beatlebone and City Of Bohane. His awards include the IMPAC Prize, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and many other journals. He also writes for the stage and screen. He lives in County Sligo, Ireland.

Writer's Desk

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