Announcing One Story’s 2014 Mentor of the Year: Colum McCann!

columMcCannOne Story is thrilled to announce our 2014 Mentor of the Year: Colum McCann.

At One Story, we believe that being a part of the literary community should include helping others. In that vein, each year at our Literary Debutante Ball we honor one established author with a “Mentor of the Year” award for their extraordinary support of fellow writers. Past honorees have included Ann Patchett, Dani Shapiro, and Dan Chaon.

Mentoring is the kind of work that happens behind the scenes, but is vital to keep the literary world alive and kicking. It comes in all forms—from teaching, to blurbs, to recommendation letters, to late-night reads, agent advice, one-on-one conferences, career guidance and inspiration. Behind each book on the shelf is an unseen mentor, giving an author the help they need to make their work better, to keep writing when they are ready to quit, and eventually give them a boost over the publishing wall.

Colum McCann exemplifies this kind of gallant hard work, and we’ll be honoring him, along with our Literary Debutantes, on May 22nd, 2014 at the One Story Literary Debutante Ball at Roulette in Brooklyn.  Tickets for the Ball will go on sale on April 10th.

Colum McCann was born in Ireland in 1965. He is the author of two collections of stories and six novels, including Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic. He has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. His work has been published in over 35 languages. He lives in New York with his wife, Allison, and their three children. He teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College.

Q&A with our 2013 Mentor of the Year: Dan Chaon

At One Story, we believe that being a part of the literary community is all about mentorship–turning around and offering a helping hand to the ones behind you. This Thursday, June 6th, at our 4th Annual Literary Debutante Ball, One Story will be honoring Dan Chaon as our 2013 Mentor of the year. Click below to see a great short film on Dan Chaon and his work, then read our Q&A with Dan about his writing experience, and how his own mentors taught him to be a better writer and teacher.

1. Dan, you’ve been a great supporter of emerging writers. But who were your mentors and how did they help you along the way?

There are a lot. I had a number of great teachers–Tobias Wolff and Doug Unger in grad school, Reginald Gibbons and Sheila Schwartz in undergrad, and also some really wonderful teachers in high school and middle school.

I have to single out two in particular. I’ve written at length about my relationship with the late Sheila Schwartz, who started out as my undergrad writing teacher and, later, became my wife. She was the love of my life in so many ways, but she was also such an important mentor, really insightful and encouraging but also tough. I think the way she helped me to set high expectations is central to my own teaching. You need someone who believes in you, but who believes in the best part of you, the part that you maybe haven’t attained yet.

I also want to mention my seventh grade English teacher, Mr. Christy, who continued to be my mentor all through high school. He was one of those rare souls who treated kids like their ideas were serious. He introduced me to the world of literary magazines, and ingrained a respect for the process of revision into me, and really helped me to understand the idea that writing is all about work ethic. When some friends and I came up with the idea to create a journal that was published out of our small Nebraska town, he took us at face value, and was able to find funding to make that happen. He had us writing to nationally known writers asking them to submit work for our first issue–and a few of them actually did. I wrote to Ray Bradbury, and had a correspondence with Bradbury, who was another life-changing mentor for me.

I’m obviously not doing any of these people justice, and I’d need to write an essay about each one. In any case, there’s an essay about Sheila here, and an essay about Bradbury here. I’ll try to do essays on all the others at some point.

2. Any words of advice for our 7 Debutantes as they start their literary careers?

The best advice I got–and the hardest to follow: “Don’t be too attached to results.”

3. How do you find a balance between teaching and writing?

It’s ridiculously difficult, because they are both utterly consuming tasks. You have to sacrifice some things to do both, and I’ve chosen to cut back on sleep and socializing. And I haven’t stopped smoking, like I should have a long time ago.

So I’m tired and isolated and smelly, but I do write a lot of words and comment on a lot of student manuscripts.

4. Your first two books were award-winning collections of stories (Fitting Ends, Among the Missing). Now, after publishing two great novels (You Remind Me of Me, Await Your Reply), you’ve come back to the short story form with Stay Awake. What made you decide to return to short stories? And how are they different from working on novels?

I never really stopped writing stories. The pieces in Stay Awake were written between 2002-2012, usually during fallow periods when I was supposed to be working on novels. The fact is, though I like working on novels, the short story is my first love and I find myself starting and working on new ones (mostly unfinished fragments) all the time. It’s a different kind of energy from the novel, a different kind of relationship with the material. To me, a story is a snapshot or a painting, full of mystery outside its borders. It’s like looking out a window of a train and seeing a scene that moves you and compels you but you won’t ever be able to know all the background and details. Novels are a lot of things, but they don’t usually allow for that kind of unsettling, concentrated glimpse into a world.

5. What are you looking forward to the most about the One Story Literary Debutante Ball on June 6th?

I’ve heard that Zach Galifianakis will be there. Is this true?

One Story & the 2012 Pushcart Prizes!

Hey One Story readers! The 2012 Pushcart Prize Anthology has just been published, and we are thrilled to have so many One Story authors in the mix! Two of our stories won 2012 Pushcart Prizes: “Nephilim” by L. Annette Binder (OS issue #141) and “Number Stations” by Smith Henderson (issue #136). And two other One Story writers, Anna Solomon (issue #73, “What is Alaska Like?”) and Celeste Ng (issue #86, “What Passes Over”), have new stories in the anthology as well. But that’s not all: OS author Ben Stroud (issue #119, “Eraser”) received a special mention, as did our former associate editor Marie-Helene Bertino for her story “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph.” We’d like to congratulate all our writers, and if you want to check out the 2012 Pushcart anthology, you can get your copy here!

PEN 2011 Writing Awards Announced


Last week the PEN American Center announced its 2011 awards. We’re so excited that the winners included three members of the One Story community.

Susanna Daniel (“Stiltsville” #134) was one of two winners of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize (worth $25,000) for an excellent debut work of fiction for her novel Stiltsville. Smith Henderson, author of One Story issue #136 “Number Stations,”  won The Emerging Writers Award, a new prize which honors a writer who has been published in a literary journal, but has not yet published a book-length work. Former One Story contributing editor Elliot Holt, nominated by Guernica magazine, was named the runner up for this award.

We’d like to thank PEN for their continued extraordinary support of writers at all stages in their careers. We congratulate Susanna, Smith, and Elliot, and all of this year’s winners and runners up who will be honored at the 2011 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on October 12, 2011, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City.

You can see the full list of winners and runners up here. We hope you’ll join us in October to toast them all.

One Story Author Valerie Trueblood makes Frank O’Connor Award Shortlist!

marryorburnCongratulations to OS author Valerie Trueblood (#35 “The Magic Pebble), whose short story collection Marry or Burn has been shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award! She and five other authors (among them Yiyun Li, Edna O’Brien, and Colm Tóibín) have been recognized this year for the prize, which will award the winner €35,000 along with great literary acclaim. We’re wishing Valerie all the best, and looking forward to when the prize is announced on September 18. Until then, here’s what Alannah Hopkin, Irish writer and judge of the contest, had to say about Valerie’s work:

“[For Trueblood], it was the complexity of her stories – really good short stories often tell two stories at the same time and she does that very well. She has a very distinctive voice.”

Other critics echo this praise—Publisher’s Weekly gave Marry or Burn a starred review for its “bracing honesty and elegant turns of phrase,” and Booklist noted it as “unique and thought-provoking…[with] well-drawn characters.”

You can watch a book trailer for Marry or Burn below. Check out more of Valerie’s writing here. Read all about this year’s Frank O’Connor shortlist here. Good luck, Valerie!

One Story Literary Debutante Ball: The Pictures!

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported our 2011 Literary Debutante Ball. We had a blast celebrating the first books of our five debutantes and honoring Dani Shapiro with the One Story Mentorship Award. Volunteers made sure guests had a drink in their hand as they rode the unique elevator at the Invisible Dog Art Center, artists lined the walls with beautiful work for our silent auction, Isaiah Sheffer from Selected Shorts kept everyone laughing as our MC, and Lapis Luna had everyone on the dance floor. Couldn’t make it to the benefit? Mix yourself a “Six Poisons” cocktail and click through the pictures below. After a sip or two, you’ll feel like you’re partying with us Brooklyn!

The Six Poisons Cocktail: 2 oz. BULLDOG Gin, 2 1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice, 1/2 oz. Orange Juice, Ice, Orange Slice for Garnish, Club soda: Shake first three ingredients with ice. Strain into an ice-filled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice. Top with a splash of club soda.

Celeste Ng Joins the Pushcart Prize Party

More great award season news! OS author Celeste Ng’s (Issue #86, “What Passes Over”) short story from the Fall 2010 issue of the Bellevue Literary Review, “Girls, At Play,” has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize this year.

You can follow Celeste by reading her blogs at  the Huffington Post and Fiction Writers Review, where she serves as a contributing editor. Or take a fiction class with her at Grub Street, a non-profit writing center in Boston. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories.

Published by the Department of Medecine at NYU Langone Medical Center and created in the tradition of Bellevue Hosptial, the Bellevue Literary Review showcases fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that utilizes ideas of the human body, illness, health and healing, as a starting point for illumiating the human experience.

Anna Solomon Wins Pushcart Prize!

OS author Anna Solomon’s (issue #73, “What is Alaska Like?”) latest story in The Georgia Review, “The Lobster Mafia Story,” has won a Pushcart Prize!

Anna will be giving a preview of her debut novel, The Little Bride, this Friday, May 6th at The Julliard School in NYC as a part of The Georgia Review’s New York reading series. The Little Bride (Riverhead Books, September 6th, 2011) explores the history of Russian Jewish immigrants who settled in the Great Plains and the story of a young immigrant bride with an older husband and a strong love for her stepson.

The Georgia Review is the country’s longest sustaining literary journal as well as being one of the most highly regarded.  It also has more subscribers in the New York City area than any other state (besides Georgia, of course).   The Review will host evening events at Julliard on Friday, May 6th, Sunday, May 8th, Tuesday, May 10th, and Wednesday, May 11th. Congratulations, Anna!