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 Christopher Merkner
2015 O. Henry Award-winning Author

It's overwhelming and humbling to have a story in the O. Henry. The first "textbook" I used as a teacher in a creative writing classroom was the O. Henry Prize Stories 2001—a recommendation by one of my own MFA teachers—and how grateful I have been to have been given that tip! I have continued to teach the O. Henry Prize anthologies so many times over the years, and raved and raved about the stories to my students, and heard my students rave and rave, and it is just thoroughly bizarre to have myself in this anthology now. I think it'll have to be one of the first times in years I won't teach the O. Henry for an entire year—I am not teaching myself, no way. Small sacrifice indeed.

(author photo © Molly Kugel Merkner)

Writing Tips

I find myself just still so submissive to the form of the short story, it's kind of exhausting. I have been writing, teaching, and studying the form for nearing two decades now and I feel each time I move into it that I have never been there before, and that there are forces in that form that do not want me there, either. I suppose at some level this is a "healthy relationship" to have with any form in writing or in art: taking orders from the language and its utterance and its shape and context. I hope so, anyway.

About the Author

Christopher Merkner was born and raised in northern Illinois. His fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Black Warrior Review, Chicago Tribune: Printer's Row Journal, Cincinnati Review, CutBank, DIAGRAM, Fairy Tale Review, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, New World Writing, The Collagist, and elsewhere. He is the author of the story collection The Rise and Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Writer's Desk

I continue to work on making an incomprehensible novel I've written somehow more comprehensible without destroying it completely. This has been going on for about a year now, and it's really an unpleasant business I should be grateful to be complaining about. I am also writing another set of stories that continues to criticize American middle-class fathers, an only slightly more pleasant business that seems to be moving along pretty well.

Writer's Desk

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

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