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 Lydia Davis
"The Seals"
2015 O. Henry Award-winning Author

I am very pleased to be included in this volume. In addition to appreciating the honor that comes with it, I have a particular reason to be especially pleased, and that is that a story of my father's was also included in the O. Henry annual prize volume—way back in 1942. Odd to think that it is so long ago. His was a war story, since this was in the midst of WW II—about a boy killed during a kids' military drill using guns with live ammunition. So I grew up seeing that O. Henry volume on the shelf.

(author photo © Theo Cote)

Writing Tips

I tend to make notes constantly, of anything that interests me, whether I think it will ever go into a piece of fiction or not. I try not to lose anything—a thought, an observation, something I notice or overhear. Now and then, I read back over these notes, and sometimes a sentence will grow into a story. It is important to avoid that blank page, and easy to avoid it if you always have multiple beginnings to turn to. While I'm working on one story, I'll often start another. When I run out of energy or ideas for one, I can turn to another. I'm also very patient. If a story is puzzling me, if an ending just isn't working, I put the story aside and keep coming back to it until I understand it better and can finish it.

About the Author

Lydia Davis was born in Massachusetts and grew up there, as well as in New York City and Vermont. She is the author of seven collections of stories and one novel, The End of the Story. She is also the translator of many works from the French, including Proust's Swann's Way and Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and, more recently, from the Dutch, the stories of A.L. Snijders. She is a 2003 MacArthur Fellow, a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2013, the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal, and the Man Booker International Prize, among other honors. She lives in upstate New York.

Writer's Desk

As always, I'm working on several things at once, a couple of essays about learning Norwegian, an essay about "translating" a children classic written in Victorian English, more stories of my own, and some translations of very short stories by a Dutch writer, A.L. Snijders.

Writer's Desk

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