Widely regarded as the nation's most prestigious awards for short fiction, the O. Henry Awards collection is a perennial favorite for short story fans.
While remaining true to its history as an annual collection of the most interesting and accomplished short stories, the 1997 edition of Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards presents several exciting new innovations that make it not only a delicious read but a rich resource for aspiring writers. Perhaps the most significant change is the revival of the top-prize selection jury, which has not been in use since the 1940's. 1997's outstanding trio of jurors--O. Henry Prize story winners all--are Louise Erdrich, Thom Jones, and David Foster Wallace. Starting with this edition, an O. Henry Award will also be presented every year to the magazine found to have published the best fiction over the course of the reading period. This year's magazine award went to Epoch, published by Cornell University and edited by Michael Koch.
O. Henry series editor Larry Dark sums up this year's collection with the following: "Deep characterization, evocative language, visceral detail, emotional acuity, and the intangible qualities that bring fiction to life, translating it from an encryption of experience into something far deeper--these are what make the twenty stories in this collection tick, hum, whisper, shout, and linger." Of the First Prize Winner, "City Life" by Mary Gordon, David Foster Wallace said: "It raised hair on parts of my body that don't even have hair."
For this issue of Bold Type, you'll find "Mirrors," a beautiful short story from Pulitzer Prize-winner Carol Shields, an essay by Larry Dark, and a new short story from O. Henry Award-winner Christine Schutt. You'll also find a short story by Alice Elliott Dark, which--while unquestionably of prize-winning quality--wasn't included in this year's collection because the author happens to be the wife of the editor. Finally, we've included the extensive list of over 200 magazines that were consulted to find the prize stories.
Photo credits: Carol Shields: Neil Graham; Alice Elliott Dark: Jerry Bauer; Christine Schutt: BIll Hayward.
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