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 Geetha Iyer
"The Mongerji Letters"
2016 O. Henry Award-winning Author

I cannot overstate the honor of appearing in The O. Henry Prize Stories. It anthologizes so many writers I admire and try to learn from—Anthony Doerr, Alice Munro, Kelly Link, Karl Taro Greenfeld (I could go on)—and celebrates the endless forms that short fiction can take on. For a beginning writer, it's a surreal vote of confidence to be included in this year's collection.

(author photo © Martijn Slot)


Writing Tips

On good days I write a thousand words that I think are true. On bad days my pitiless internal editor reads them and says, Start over, but hold on to this verb. I don't imagine I can say anything new about the struggle to keep the writer and editor at least in conversation, if not on the same page. I know I ought to stress the importance of discipline—waking up every morning to write something, anything, because it is your job—but the truth is, I am not as disciplined as I ought to be.

But I read every day. Not necessarily fiction. I stumble upon things like Lord Howe stick insects, a nanomaterial called Vantablack, the obituary for Boa Sr, the last speaker of the language Bo. I might work on a story for months or years, but I'd never have started in the first place if it weren't for such discoveries. Even if I lose faith in my own writing, others' keeps me going.


Writer's Desk

I'm always working on short stories. I sometimes group them into "concept albums" that circulate around a particular fixation—archives, virtual reality, Mars, neuroethology, displacement. A couple of these obsessions I'm trying to coax into novels, but it remains to be seen if they want to go there yet.


About the Author

Geetha Iyer was born in India and grew up in the United Arab Emirates. She received an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. Her fiction and poetry appears in journals including Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, The Missouri Review Online, and Mid-American Review. She's been the recipient of the James Wright Poetry Award, the Calvino Prize, and the Gulf Coast Fiction Prize, and has attended the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. She lives in Panama City, Panama.


Writer's Desk

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