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 Joan Silber
"About My Aunt"
2015 O. Henry Award-winning Author

In addition to the great and abiding excitement of being chosen, it's a joy to be in The O. Henry Prize Stories because of the sheer size of its readership and because of the ad hoc community of writers it forms each year. In its pages, I'm always discovering writers whose work I love.

(author photo © Barry Goldstein)

Writing Tips

My two favorite authors are story writers, Anton Chekhov and Alice Munro, and I think this longstanding attachment to them speaks for the power of the form. I carry some of their pieces in my heart the way people carry memorized poems. Last year I happened to see on TV the Russian film version of The Lady with the Dog—from 1960, it's fabulous—and although my TV was cutting off half the subtitles, I knew by heart what they were saying.

Writer's Desk

My last three books have been collections of linked stories. I feel that I've done my best work in this form, but I saw a danger in repeating it. So what I'm working on now is, in fact, a novel; I wrote three before I moved to stories. It has several branches, but it follows out the consequences of one character's fatal move—she's the narrator of "About My Aunt," this year's O. Henry story—and the resulting effects of this misstep on a range of people. I wanted to write something with the intensity of a single-line novel but the spread of a web of stories.

About the Author

Joan Silber was born in New Jersey. She is the author of seven works of fiction, including Fools (longlisted for the National Book Award and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award), The Size of the World (finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize in Fiction), Ideas of Heaven (finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize), and Household Words (winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award). Her stories have been in four O. Henry collections. She is also the author of The Art of Time in Fiction, a critical study. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

Writer's Desk

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