I admit, I’m playing catch-up here, but I couldn’t let another moment go by without acknowledging the Story Prize finalists, which were announced Tuesday. The three short story collections in the running are Dan Chaon’s “Stay Awake,” Junot Diaz’s “This Is How You Lose Her” and “Battleborn” by Claire Vaye Watkins. The winner will receive a substantial prize -- $20,000.
The Story Prize simultaneously announced the debut of a new prize, the Spotlight Award, designed for the Story Prize founders to single out a work due additional attention. The winner is selected from the pool of Story Prize entrants -- 98 books in 2012 -- and awarded $1,000. The first Spotlight Award will go to Krys Lee for “Drifting House,” a collection of fiction set in the U.S., North Korea and South Korea.
I hope the Spotlight Award didn’t come into being because of a frustration with the judges -- I was one for the 2009 prize, which went to Daniyal Mueenuddin for his collection “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.”
Each of the books in the running for the 2012 prize have been written about by the L.A. Times. Here’s a sample:
“Reading the stories in Díaz’s new collection, ‘This Is How You Lose Her,’ is often a three-dimensional, laugh-out-loud experience. It’s the voice that transports you: erudite, Caribbean, bilingually foul-mouthed, channeling the assorted insanities of Dominicans, New Jerseyites and English professors.” -- Hector Tobar
“An understated master of the form whose occasionally devastating debut story collection ‘Among the Missing’ was a National Book Award finalist in 2001, Chaon has returned to the format with more quietly haunting stories of isolation and disconnection that stick with you like faded images from a disturbing dream.” -- Chris Barton on Dan Chaon’s “Stay Awake”
"[Father Paul] Watkins died of cancer when Claire was 6, leaving her the private legacy of an absent father and a public one connected to the Manson case. In ‘Battleborn’s’ first story, ‘Ghosts, Cowboys,’ she folds her real-life history into something surreal and clearly metaphorical while also, she says, ‘getting the Manson thing out of the way.’” -- Carolyn Kellogg
The Story Prize will be awarded in New York on March 13; tickets are $14. In addition to the hefty cash award, the winner gets an engraved bowl; the runners-up get $5,000 apiece.