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 Brad Watson
"Alamo Plaza"
2011 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

I think having a story in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories is more than just giving it a second (or third, in this case) life. It's a chance for a whole new, large group of readers to discover it alongside nineteen other stories by great writers whose work you admire. It's the selection of your story from the thousands of short stories published in the United States that year for inclusion in an excellent, longstanding prize anthology put together by a great publisher and writer/editor team who declare that these are among the best. It's an honor.

(author photo © Owen Watson)

Writing Tips

I've come to love writing short stories again in a way I haven't since I was first writing them in my early twenties. For a while, they seemed to be a labor I was not enjoying, and one that yielded me little profit of any sort beyond croaker sacks of compositional agony. I quit writing them for awhile. But now, if I don't have at least one short story in progress, I'm not all there.

About the Author

Brad Watson was born in 1955 in Meridian, Mississippi. His stories have been published in Ecotone, The New Yorker, Granta, The Idaho Review, The Oxford American, Narrative, Greensboro Review, Yalobusha Review, as well as anthologies including The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, and The Story And Its Write. His story collection Last Days of the Dog-Men received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. His novel, The Heaven of Mercury, received the Southern Book Critics Circle Fiction Award (shared with Lee Smith), and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent collection, Aliens in the Prime of Their Live, was a Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He teaches in the MFA program at The Univesrsity of Wyoming, and lives in Laramie, Wyoming.

Writer's Desk

I always have more than one story going, but I also am always working on a novel. I have one I'm working on most of the time, but sometimes I will work later in the day on a short story or another novel that may be a loose assembly right now but feels as if something of its size and shape is already in my head.

Writer's Desk

Browse our archive of featured authors from this and other editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories.

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