Saturday, December 26, 2009

Featuring stories selected from thousands published in literary magazines, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009 is studded with great writers such as Junot Díaz, Nadine Gordimer, Ha Jin, and Paul Theroux, as well as new voices. The winning stories feature locales as diverse as post-war Vietnam, a retirement community in Cape Town, South Africa, an Egyptian desert village, and a permanently darkened New York City; the dizzying range of characters include a Russian mail-order bride in Finland, a rebellious Dominican girl in New Jersey, and a hallucinating British Gulf War veteran. The stories are accompanied by essays from the eminent jurors on their favorites, observations from the twenty winners on what inspired them, and an extensive resource list of magazines.

table of contents

Introduction • Laura Furman, Series Editor

•Graham Joyce,“An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen”
•Kristen Sundberg Lunstrum, “The Nursery”
•E. V. Slate, “Purple Bamboo Park”
•John Burnside, “The Bell Ringer”
•Mohan Sikka, “Uncle Musto Takes a Mistress”
•L. E. Miller, “Kind”
•Alistair Morgan, “Icebergs”
•Roger Nash, “The Camera and the Cobra”
•Manuel Muñoz, “Tell Him about Brother John”
•Caitlin Horrocks,“This Is Not Your City”
•Ha Jin,“The House behind a Weeping Cherry”
•Paul Theroux, “Twenty-two Stories”
•Judy Troy,“The Order of Things”
•Nadine Gordimer, “A Beneficiary”
•Viet Dinh, “Substitutes”
•Karen Brown, “Isabel’s Daughter”
•Marisa Silver,“The Visitor”
•Paul Yoon, “And We Will Be Here”
•Andrew Sean Greer, “Darkness”
•Junot Díaz, “Wildwood”

Reading The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009
The Jurors on Their Favorites
A. S. Byatt on “An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen” by Graham Joyce
Anthony Doerr on “Wildwood” by Junot Díaz
Tim O’Brien on “An Ordinary Soldier of the Queen” by Graham Joyce

Writing The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009
The Writers on Their Work

Recommended Stories 2009
Publications Submitted

Book Twenty-Four
I am always skeptical when reading the "best" of any genre of writing. Sometimes I think my expectations are too high and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised at just how good the story telling really is. This edition of "The Best Stories of the Year" fell short for me. I'm not really sure why, only that I may have expected more, especially from some of the well known authors that were selected. Maybe I just do not like people telling me what is the best or worst of writing and I like to judge for myself.