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 Lore Segal
O. Henry Award-winning Author

I was happy when The O. Henry Prize Stories 1990 included my "Reverse Bug" and am happy to be included again, eighteen years later, with my story "Other People's Deaths." It demonstrates the creeping rate of speed at which I write that the two stories interrelate in Shakespeare's Kitchen, a collection published in 2007.

(author photo © Jacob Segal)

Writing Tips

I write my novels in chapters shaped like stories. I don't have the long breath the novel requires, and my chapters insist on their own theme and choreography.

Why am I so slow? There are writers who love the first flinging down of hot ideas and for whom the process of editing and polishing might be a chore. I dislike that early decision-making when I don't yet know what I'm talking about. It's the next eighteen years of "polishing" in which I find out what I mean.

The title, "Other People's Deaths," connects to my first autobiographical novel about my refugee childhood. It was called Other People's Houses. It's interesting how many readers assume that "Other People's Deaths" takes to task those who absent themselves from other people's hurts and losses--those who do not offer consolation--and yet I have been both the person in need of consolation and the person unable to give it. I think one of my themes is that we are all of us in this together.

About the Author

Lore Segal was born in Vienna, Austria. At the age of ten she left Hitler's Austria and went to England with a transport of Jewish children. From 1948 to 1951, she lived in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States in May 1951. Novelist, translator, writer for children, her novels include Other People's Houses and Her First American. Among her children's books are Tell Me a Mitzi and Why Mole Shouted. Her translation of The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm was illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Lore Segal's recently published Shakespeare's Kitchen is a book of related stories. Retired from teaching creative writing, Lore Segal lives in New York.

Writer's Desk

  • The novel on which I am at work imagines a "terrorist" plot that drives people over 62 crazy, simultaneously curing their mortal illness to create a population of demented, heart-healthy centenarians. A sad joke. It proceeds in the form of short stories.

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