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 John Berger
"A Brush"
2012 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

O. Henry was one of my masters, when I was trying to teach myself to write stories. So I'm happy—it's as though he is holding out a hand to me after many years of storytelling.

(author photo © Jean Mohr)

Writing Tips

Storytellers are first and foremost listeners. Not only to words but to, also, all the other languages of signs. We invent very little. We deliver what was entrusted to us, hoping we have not betrayed it.

About the Author

John Berger was born in London in 1926. He is well known for his novels and stories as well as for his works of nonfiction, including several volumes of art criticism. His first novel, A Painter of Our Time, was published in 1958, and since then his books have included the novel G., which won the Man Booker Prize in 1972. His latest book is Bento's Sketchbook. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and he lives in a small village in the French Alps.

Writer's Desk

I'm writing a letter to Leo Tolstoi about his last book Resurrection.

Writing Tips

From "East of the West" by John Berger

Cambodia is a land that has a unique osmotic relationship with freshwater. The Khmer word for homeland is Teuk-Dey, which means Water-Land. Framed by mountains, its flat, horizontal, alluvial plain—about a quarter of the size of France—is crossed by six major rivers including the vast Mekong. During and after the summer monsoon rains, the flow of this river multiplies by fifty! And in Phnom Penh, the river's level rises systematically by eight meters. At the same time, to the north, the lake Tonlé Sap overflows each summer to five times its 'normal' winter size to become an immense reservoir, and the river of Tonlé Sap turns round to run in the opposite direction, its downstream becoming upstream.

Writer's Desk

Browse our archive of featured authors from this and other editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories.

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