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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

On Literary Awards and Subjectivity


Ron Rash, winner of the O'Connor Award
Congratulations to Ron Rash, winner of the £35,000 (around $55,000) Cork City – Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for his story collection Burning Bright  (Ecco). In the five years since the O'Connor prize was established (The Story Prize is in its seventh), the overlap of winners and finalists between the two book awards for short story collections has been small. So far, only two of our finalists--Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth and Wells Towers' Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned--have been finalists (Towers) or winners (Lahiri) of the O'Connor award. We don't announce our finalists until early January, so that correspondence could increase. But what's clear is that literary prizes are (as everyone understands or should) largely subjective.

The first year I served as series editor for the O. Henry Awards, 1997, I got in touch with Katrina Kenison, then the series editor of Best American Short Stories, and we established a practice of comparing winners, once we'd both chosen. In those pre-social-networking days, there was no announcement. And until the galleys were sent out, few people knew the complete list of stories chosen for either collection. The first year, I think both Katrina and I were nervous as we read our lists of stories to each other over the phone. What if we had too many in common? She was nervous because our collection came out six weeks earlier. I was nervous because their collection routinely trounced ours in sales. Both our fears, however, were unfounded. We didn't overlap a single story in 1997. In 1998, we had three stories in common and two in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002.

One big procedural difference between the annual collections was that I chose the 20 stories myself, whereas Katrina picked 120 or so stories to send to the guest editor, who chose the final 20. We would often both admire some of the other collection's choices, and she sometimes took on a wistful tone. For instance, that very first year, she told me she would have liked Rick Moody's "Demonology" to have made the Best American cut. And I believe I made the better choice of Annie Proulx stories in 1998, when I chose "Brokeback Mountain" and Best American guest editor Garrison Keillor chose "The Half-Skinned Steer." Truth be told, I always thought the O. Henry Awards choices were better. But, then, I would. That's what subjectivity is all about.

"Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for."
Alice Walker

Random picks

  • Continued from Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 (Check the SCBWI Canada East website for info about upcoming events; see my conference photos on Flickr and Facebook) The fabulous Lizann Flatt during the morning announcements. Continuing my report about the SCBWI-Montreal conference, we're now up to the Last Day. Not having to worry about a keynote talk, I was able to sleep a bit longer before heading down for breakfast. Had a delightful conversation with Linda Pratt and Michelle Jodoin about children's/YA books. Ended up buying Linda Urban's A Crooked Kind Of Perfect for my Kindle as a...
  • Will Firth’s translation of “The Bird on the Balcony” by Petre Dimovski appears in the January 2017 feature, Short Fiction from Macedonia.   One of the five stories I decided to translate for the Macedonian feature, “The Bird on the Balcony” by Petre Dimovski, put me in a somewhat difficult situation. The author’s style is distinctly flowery. I felt a need to tone down or otherwise moderate this sentimentalism because it would sound excessive in...
  • If you are familiar with article marketing, then you should know that it can really improve your business and traffic. It can be hard to know how and where to begin, though. Use the tips offered here to help get you started. Many consumers are persuaded not by your sales materials but by other consumers. Make sure you meet this need by including a section that features testimonials from actual customers. TIP! Write content that will do well for long periods of time. Try not to write about issues that are only relevant today; keep to topics that will stand the test of time. Provide relevant...
  • Are you not writing your book because you cannot find the time? Or do you insist you need a longer amount of time than you have to give your subject matter the attention it needs, "I can't write a book unless I have two or three hours a day, five days a week to devote to it. Here is the first secret about writing a book. If you wait until you have "time" to write that book, chances are you won't. You will never have enough "time" to write. Here's what you can do instead.
  • "What's your favorite first book by an author ever?" That's the question that launches the seventh year of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of our members and honorees. Here's the eighth in this new series. It's not too late to send your critical essay on your own favorite to janeciab@gmail.com. If considering American books since 1955 (a year when, pace Woolf, we could say the world changed again), I vote for Grace Paley's THE LITTLE DISTURBANCES OF MAN or Denis Johnson's ANGELS. Why Paley's story collection? Because hers was the unholy...

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Fast fact about writing

The contemporary important writing not of alphabetic type is that in Chinese characters, in which thousands of symbols are used, each representing a word or concept, and Japanese, where each character represents a syllable.