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 Jai Chakrabarti
"A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness"
2017 O. Henry Award-winning Author

We had copies of the O. Henry Prize anthologies in the suburban house in India where I was born in and would return to through the summers of high school and college. Reading the stories was a way of swimming the channel between continents, cultures, and languages. It's unfathomable to think now that a story of mine might be included in a stranger's almirah with all of the writers I admired and loved to discover.

(author photo © Peter Dressel)

Writing Tips

There was a bar in Union Square in New York City I frequented for many years, nearly every Monday post-work, for the simple pleasure of listening to poems out loud. Many of us regulars also engaged in the kind of dim chatter in the back of the room that allowed us to enter and exit the space of the poems at will. I remember moments over the years, all the diehards who'd rest their drinks, stop talking to square up near the stage to hear something—whatever kind of jewel it was—and become, for the space of a few stanzas, slightly more human. I would say I strive for that liminal moment, right before the peculiar long phrase that upends the old hands and their shot glasses.

Writer's Desk

I'm working on two projects: a collection of stories and a novel. The stories circle around the matter of an old, colonial house in Kolkata, an even older Bengali family, and the characters who make the same plain mistakes for love. The novel is set primarily in New York and India in 1972 and follows the story of a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, the woman he falls for, and the work of art that calls them to a village in Bengal during a period of political unrest.

About the Author

Jai Chakrabarti was born in Kolkata, India, and grew up between India and half a dozen American states. He was a 2015 Emerging Writer's Fellow with A Public Space and received his MFA from Brooklyn College. His work has appeared in Barrow Street, Hayden's Ferry Review, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Writer's Desk

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