author Claire Vaye Watkins—cited for her originality and the
audacity of her voice—has won The Story Prize for Battleborn.
York, NY—At the end of an evening of readings and conversation
with the three finalists for The Story Prize, author Claire Vaye
Watkins of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, took the stage and accepted the
top prize of $20,000 for Battleborn (Riverhead Books), a collection
of 10 stories set in the American West. Settings range from the
California Gold Rush of 1849 to the founding of Reno in 1859 to the
abandoned movie set that housed the notorious Manson family in the
late 1960s to recent times haunted by such past events. The
collection's title refers to the state motto of Nevada, the
author's home state, where many of the stories take place.
other finalists for The Story Prize were celebrated authors Dan Chaon
Junot Díaz for This
Is How You Lose Her.
Watkins is the ninth-ever winner of The Story Prize and the
first woman to win the prestigious book award since Mary Gordon
took the top prize for The
Stories of Mary Gordon in
2007. The first woman to win was Edwidge Danticat for The
Dew Breaker in
2005. Watkins is also the third debut author to win. The previous two
were Patrick O'Keeffe for The
Hill Road in
2006 and Daniyal Mueenuddin for In
Other Rooms, Other Wonders in
2010. The four other winners have been Jim Shepard, Tobias Wolff,
Anthony Doerr, and, most recently, Steven Millhauser.
the event at The New School in New York City, this year's finalists
read from and discussed their story collections with Larry Dark,
Director of The Story Prize, before the founder of the prize, Julie
Lindsey, announced Watkins as the winner. The $20,000 award she
received remains the largest first-prize amount of any annual U.S.
book award for fiction. As runners-up, Chaon and Díaz each received
and Lindsey selected the three finalists for The Story Prize from
among 98 books entered in 2012, representing 65 different publishers
and imprints. Three judges read the three short story collections
Dark and Lindsey chose as finalists and voted to determine the winner
of the award. They were:
- Critic and author Jane Ciabattari;
- Award-winning author Yiyun Li; and
- Bookseller Sarah McNally, founder and owner of McNally Jackson Books.
in 2004, The Story Prize annually honors the author of an outstanding
collection of short fiction. Books by living authors, written in
English and published in the U.S. in a calendar year are eligible.
Director of The Story Prize, Larry Dark, served as Series Editor for
the annual Prize
Stories: The O. Henry Awards, from 1997 to 2002, and has edited four other anthologies of short
fiction. An eighteen-member Advisory Board offers support and advice.
The Story Prize was established by Julie Lindsey and is underwritten
by the Chisholm Foundation.
2011 Winner Steven Millhauser
“Most American writers begin with the short story and then become novelists — for them, the short story is a kind of apprenticeship. My own history is backward: I began as a novelist and later turned to the short story. Exactly why this is so remains mysterious even to me. But the crucial thing is that I didn’t turn to the story as a form of preparation for something larger or more important — on the contrary, it’s as if the novel were a kind of preparation for the rigorous pleasures of the shorter form. For me, the shortness of a great story is part of its greatness. In any case, I love and revere this form of writing, and hold it second to no other form.”
— Steven Millhauser on accepting The Story Prize