New York, NY — The Stories of Mary Gordon, published in 2006 by Pantheon Books, is the winner of The Story Prize, as announced at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York City on February 28. Two other books—The Lives of Rocks (Houghton Mifflin) by Rick Bass and In Persuasion Nation (Riverhead Books) by George Saunders—were contenders for the award. At the event on Wednesday night, the three finalists read from their books and discussed their work onstage with Larry Dark, the Director of The Story Prize, before Founder Julie Lindsey announced the winner at the end of the program.
Gordon received $20,000—the largest first-prize amount of any annual U.S. book award for fiction—and an engraved silver bowl. The other two finalists, Bass and Saunders, each received $5,000.
Written over the course of thirty years, The Stories of Mary Gordon collects twenty-two new stories and nineteen that appeared in a previous collection, Temporary Shelter. Mary Gordon is also the author of six novels, including Final Payments and Pearl; four books of nonfiction, including The Shadow Man; and a collection of novellas, The Rest of Life. Her short stories have twice been first-prize winners in the O. Henry Awards and she is the recipient of numerous other honors, among them an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts
and Letters. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York City.
Established in 2004, The Story Prize annually honors the author of an outstanding collection of short fiction. Eligibility is restricted to
collections (containing at least two stories and/or novellas) by a
living author, written in English. Eligible books must be the first
publication of the work in the U.S. during a calendar year, in either
hardcover or paperback, available for purchase by the general public. Collections must also include work previously unpublished in book form.
The Director of The Story Prize, Larry Dark, served as Series Editor for six volumes of the annual Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards from 1997 to 2002 and has edited four other anthologies of short fiction. A fifteen-member Advisory Board, including prominent members of the literary community, offers support and advice to The Story Prize. The award was established by founder Julie Lindsey and is underwritten by a private donor.
The three finalists for The Story Prize were selected by Dark and
Lindsey from among 65 books entered for consideration in 2006,
representing 44 different publishers and imprints. Three judges read the books chosen as finalists to determine the winner of The Story Prize.
The judges were:
—Edwidge Danticat, an award-winning fiction writer and the first winner of The Story Prize for her 2005 collection of connected stories, The Dew Breaker (Knopf).
—Ron Hogan, of the literary blogs Beatrice.com and Galleycat, which covers the publishing industry.
—Mitchell Kaplan, an independent bookseller, past American Booksellers Association president, and founder of the Miami, Fla., area Books & Books stores.