GEORGE SAUNDERS WINS THE STORY PRIZE
One of the most widely acclaimed books of 2013—Saunders' Tenth of December—has taken the $20,000 top prize.
George Saunders, winner of The Story Prize. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan
New York, NY—At the end of an evening of readings and conversation with the three finalists for The Story Prize, author George Saunders of Oneonta, N.Y., took the stage at The New School's auditorium and accepted the top prize of $20,000 for Tenth of December (Random House), a critically praised short story collection that encompasses broad comedy, biting satire, and selfless acts of courage—often within a single story.
Ten must surely be Mr. Saunders' lucky number: He is the tenth winner of The Story Prize for a collection of ten stories called Tenth of December, that in 2013 spent ten consecutive weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover books. The book reached as high as no. 2 on that list, and the paperback edition has been on the trade fiction list for six weeks now.
His previous collection, In Persuasion Nation (2006), was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007, which makes him the first to twice achieve this distinction. The other finalists for books published in 2013 were authors Andrea Barrett for Archangel (W.W. Norton) and Rebecca Lee for Bobcat (Algonquin Books).
At the event at The New School, all three finalists read from and discussed their work on-stage with Larry Dark, Director of The Story Prize, before the founder of the prize, Julie Lindsey, announced Saunders as the winner. The $20,000 award he received remains the largest first-prize amount of any annual U.S. book award for fiction. As runners-up, Barrett and Lee each received $5,000.
Dark and Lindsey selected the three finalists for The Story Prize from among 96 books entered in 2013, representing 64 different publishers and imprints. Three judges read the three short story collections chosen as finalists and voted to determine the winner of the award. The judges were:
- Stephen Ennis, Director of the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin;
- Award-winning author Antonya Nelson; and
- Rob Spillman, Editor of literary magazine Tin House.
In addition to Tenth of December, Saunders is the author of six previous books, including the story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He won the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story and was included in Time's 2013 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Saunders teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University, where he also began his career, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing.
The Story Prize was established by Julie Lindsey and is underwritten by the Chisholm Foundation. The Director, 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. An eighteen-member advisory board offers support and advice.