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 Asako Serizawa
"The Visitor"
2013 O. Henry Award-winning Author

As a person for whom the short story is not a bastard form, it's truly an honor to be included here. As a relatively little-published person, the news, which came at a critical juncture (and on my birthday too!), was also completely unexpected and encouraging for it. I've always appreciated the spirit of the O. Henry because there are so few prizes dedicated to celebrating short stories. For me, anthologies like this have always been the perfect vehicle for discussing stories, individually and contextually, so I feel extremely lucky that one of mine had the good fortune of making its way here.

(author photo © Matthew Modica)

Writer's Desk

I'm currently working on finishing a collection of interconnected stories, which includes "The Visitor."

About the Author

Someone once said that writing is 80 percent revision. That's true for me, though the figure is probably closer to 90 percent. I revise the minute I start writing, and then even after I print the story to "just look it over one more time," I usually end up with 5-10 "last" drafts, all heavily marked up. The problem is, you change one word and the whole thing shifts, widening old cracks, revealing new ones, and you start worrying about the entire foundation, down to the initial concept. It's really a terrible process, and I often wonder how much is really necessary, how much really makes a difference, but I don't see a way around it. Part of it is that there is so much to figure out—all the nuts and bolts of the craft—and then, because stories are representations, I feel a responsibility to consider what I'm representing, how I'm representing it, and why. I used to tell myself that it'll all get easier eventually, but every story is a new story at a new stage of constant development, so I've found that it actually gets harder, even though a few things do get a bit easier.

I often hear rumors about Muses visiting writers. I can only imagine what mine must be doing. Probably still waiting for that H1B work visa...

About the Author

Asako Serizawa was born in Japan. Her pre-college life was spent in Singapore, Indonesia, and Tokyo, Japan. Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, The Antioch Review, and The Hudson Review. She lives in Madison, WI.

Writer's Desk

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