Saturday, June 09, 2012

2012 Frank O'Connor award - Fiona Kidman on shortlist

American shortlisted for lucrative short-story prize along with Kevin Barry, Etgar Keret, Sarah Hall, Lucia Pirello, Fiona Kidman

Nathan Englander
Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank has been shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor award. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

American author Nathan Englander's acclaimed What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank has made the shortlist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story award, the world's richest prize for a short story collection.
Englander's second collection of stories, which on publication drew effusive praise from authors including Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and Jennifer Egan, looks set to become the favourite for this year's award, worth 25,000 euros to the winner. But the author, who opens his book with a homage to Raymond Carver in the story of two Jewish couples discussing which of their Christian friends would save them if there were an American Holocaust, is up against strong competition, despite big hitters Don DeLillo and Jon McGregor failing to make the final lineup.
"There are collections we read that started awfully well and dwindled away," said Irish novelist Mary Leland, who was joined on the judging panel by the poet James Harpur and literary festival programmer Ann Luttrel. "But the prize is for a collection, so even though I might have been seduced here and there by one or two powerful pieces, I had to then say: 'This isn't sustained throughout.' The six books we chose do sustain the story-telling all the way through."
Kevin Barry, the Irish author who took the £30,000 the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story award earlier this year, is shortlisted for Dark Lies the Island. The collection includes his prize-winning story Beer Trip to Llandudno, in which a group of middle-aged ale-lovers travel to Wales. Celebrated Israeli author Etgar Keret, meanwhile, was chosen for his comic collection Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, which opens with a tale in which the narrator is held hostage by people demanding a story. "I bet things like this never happen to Amos Oz or David Grossman," writes Keret.
Booker-shortlisted British writer Sarah Hall is in the running for her first short story collection, The Beautiful Indifference. "Her writing [took] another leap forward, into a landscape entirely her own", according to a Guardian review of the volume. Lucia Pirello was chosen for Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain, telling the stories of the inhabitants of a small town in the Pacific north-west, and the New Zealand writer Fiona Kidman is up for The Trouble with Fire, 11 stories linked by the theme of fire.

Full story at The Guardian

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