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 Shruti Swamy
"A Simple Composition"
2016 O. Henry Award-winning Author

When I am sitting at my desk, there is a voice now whispering in my ear: yes, yes, keep writing, someone is listening. Even beyond the incredible honor of having my story appear in these distinguished pages, and in such brilliant company, it is this precious feeling I am grateful for above all else.

(author photo © Abe Bingham)

Writing Tips

As I move deeper into my life as a writer, I've started to feel less like I'm constructing a story when I sit down to write, and more that I am listening: both to the particular diction and cadence of the voice that narrates, and also to the shape and turn of the story. Even when I am stuck or frustrated, writing has never stopped feeling like a miracle to me. Whose voice is this? Where does the story come from? In my best moments, I'm simply getting out of my own way.

Writer's Desk

I'm writing a novel set in Bombay in the late 60s and early 70s. "Utter" follows a ferociously ambitious young dancer who comes of age and political consciousness in one of the most tumultuous in the city's history. Usha loses her mother early to suicide: she cares for her increasingly unstable brother: all the while pursuing perfection—and later, fame—in her life as a kathak dancer. As she does, she is both witness and actor in her city's history, in a time of labor strikes, political upheaval, and utter transformation.

About the Author

Shruti Swamy's fiction has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Agni, Black Warrior Review, and New American Writing, and she has received residencies and fellowships from Hedgebrook, the Millay Colony for the Arts, Vassar College, and Kundiman. Shruti received her BA from Vassar College, and her MFA from San Francisco State University. Born in California, she lives and writes in San Francisco.

Writer's Desk

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