Princess Leia: “The short story is far, far, far from dead.”

princessl1Last night at the Pen American Center’s literary awards, One Story Editor-in-Chief Hannah Tinti was presented with the PEN/ Nora Magid Award for a magazine editor of distinction, and dubbed the “Princess Leia of American short fiction” by judge Richard Nash. Upon receiving the award Hannah declared the short story “far, far, far from dead.” Find full coverage of the evening at the National Book Critics Circle’s blog, Critical Mass.

Hannah Tinti Wins Pen/Magid Award!

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Yesterday, the Pen American Center  announced that Hannah Tinti had won the Pen/Nora Magid award, which honors a magazine editor whose high literary standards and taste have, throughout his or her career, contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits. 

This award confirms what those of us who work with Hannah have known all along: She’s one of the best editors in the business.  

John Hodgman introduced me to Hannah almost fifteen years ago. She was getting her M.F.A. from NYU and I was getting mine from Columbia. We went to a lot of parties back then and we’d sit and talk about our work and about short stories. When I had the idea for One Story, Hannah was the only person I asked to edit it. I knew that for the magazine to fly, the stories had to be nearly perfect and because of Hannah they have been. Of the 119 issues we’ve published, 45 have been acknowledged as among the year’s best. 

What’s incredible about working with Hannah is the passion she feels for each of our stories. I’ve gotten calls late at night when she’s found a fantastic one in the slush pile. At editorial meetings, she presents upcoming issues to the staff, telling what each one is about with so much excitement that she makes work feel like storytime. 

But it’s the work she does with writers that has made One Story the success it is. O. Henry Prize and Best American Short Story-winning author Paul Yoon, whose collection Once The Shore was published this year by Sarabande Books, wrote this to me about his experience working with Hannah:

“One of my fondest memories of Hannah is receiving the “few suggestions” she had for my story “Once the Shore” before it was published in One Story. It was my first experience with an editor and my jaw dropped. She had deconstructed the story, line by line, with clear and intelligent thoughts on why a certain word was not the best fit or why a sentence did not work or why a certain idea should be further explored. And she did all this while staying true to the story’s voice and vision. And so began the months and months of drafts and correspondences. She took that story by the hand and guided it, immersed herself into that fictional word with unparalleled devotion and passion. It was one of the most rewarding times in my life. I don’t get the chance to see Hannah often these days but when I do, one of the greatest pleasures for me is to listen to her wrestle with the intricacies of a story she is editing for One Story. Stories are always on her mind. There is no one more dedicated to that art. We are all aware of, and devoted to, the power of Hannah’s own fictions. What moves me especially about the PEN award is the long-awaited public recognition for her tremendous gifts as an editor. I couldn’t be more proud. She is a writer’s dream. Someone who will stay with you on that journey, with selflessness and conviction. And each day I feel blessed to have worked with her.”

The PEN/Magid will be presented on May 19th in New York City at the 2009 PEN Literary Awards. To find out more and read the press release, go here. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Hannah on her editorial work over the past seven years for One Story.

PEN/O’Henry Partnership

Anchor Books has partnered with PEN American Center and renamed its annual O. Henry Prize Stories. The new “PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories” will be published on May 5th and features a story that was originally published here in our magazine (Mohan Sikka’s “Uncle Musto Takes a Mistress”). For more information and an interview with Laura Furman, editor of The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, go here or check out Larry Dark’s interview with Laura Furman on the Story Prize blog.

There will be a launch party to celebrate The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories and it is free and open to the public.  Here are the details:

Wednesday, May 20th
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
PEN/O.HENRY Prize Stories Launch
Idlewild Books
12 West 19th Street
Manhattan

NO RSVP needed.

Orange You Curious?

The Orange* Prize for Fiction announced its 2009 longlist. The Orange Prize is awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman. (Short story collections and novellas are not eligible.) This year’s longlist includes Toni Morrison for A Mercy, Miriam Toews for The Flying Troutmans and Marilynne Robinson for Home.

*Orange is the mobile phone company in the UK that sponsors the prize. When I lived in London, Orange was famous for its “adverts.” I don’t know anything about their current ad campaign.

The Pushcart Prize XXXIII

The latest Pushcart Prize anthology is in stores now and features two stories that we are especially excited about: “Reasons For and Advantages of Breathing” by Lydia Peelle (originally published as One Story issue #87) and “North Of” by One Story Assistant Editor Marie Bertino (originally published in Mississippi Review.) Marie works tirelessly behind the scenes at One Story, so we’re delighted to see her in the spotlight for a change. Congratulations, Lydia and Marie!

National Book Award Winner in Fiction: Peter Matthiessen

The National Book Award winners were announced tonight at a dinner in New York emceed by Eric Begosian. (And thanks to the National Book Foundation’s Twitter updates, readers who were not at the dinner could still follow the action. I confess that I don’t entirely understand Twitter, but was impressed by how tech savvy the National Book Foundation is.) This year’s winner for Fiction is Peter Matthiessen for Shadow Country. The four Finalists were: Aleksander Hemon for The Lazarus Project, Rachel Kushner for Telex from Cuba, Marilynne Robinson for Home, and Salvatore Scibona for The End. In other award news tonight, McKey (apparently not her real name) was named “America’s Next Top Model.” The winners of the National Book Awards each received $10,000 and a bronze statue. The winner of “ANTM” received a $100,000 contract with Cover Girl, representation from Elite Model Management, and a cover shoot for Seventeen Magazine. I’ll refrain from further comment. Just buy the Finalists’ wonderful books. And then read them. Please. 

5 Under 35

The National Book Foundation’s annual “5 Under 35” celebrates five books of fiction by five writers under the age of thirty-five. As most people know, thirty-five is the minimum age for a President of the United States. To the Founding Fathers, with their limited life expectancy, thirty-five years seemed sufficient time to accrue the experience necessary to be Chief Executive of this fledging nation. In our contemporary society, where forty is the new twenty, thirty-five still seems awfully young. It’s hard to imagine electing a thirty-five-year-old President. (People were worried about Obama’s experience and he is 47. He is also a terrific writer who wrote Dreams from My Father when he was under 35. But I digress.) Still, the 5 Under 35 celebration is a reminder that one should never underestimate youth. Mary Gaitskill said the title story in One Story author Nam Le’s astonishingly good collection, The Boat, would be extraordinary if it had been written by a fifty-year-old author, and that the fact that Nam was just twenty-six when he wrote it makes it all the more remarkable. There is no doubt that writing is hard, and that with experience and practice, most writers’ work does get better. But some writers do their best work long before 35. The work of the five writers feted at Tribeca Cinemas last night already displays such wisdom and maturity that one can’t help but feel that 35 is an arbitrary age to define the cut-off between young and, well, less young. How relevant is age when it comes to confidence and authority on the page? It’s exciting to imagine what this year’s 5 Under 35 will write in the next thirty-five years or so. In the meantime, buy the books they have already written. Each of the five young writers is always selected by a previous National Book Award Fiction Finalist or Winner. Here are the 5 Under 35 for 2008, who were introduced by the writers who selected them: Matthew Eck, The Farther Shore. (Selected by Joshua Ferris, 2007 National Book Award Finalist for Then We Came to the End.) Keith Gessen, All the Sad Young Literary Men. (Selected by Jonathan Franzen, 2001 National Book Award Winner for The Corrections.) Sana Krasikov, One More Year. (Selected by Francine Prose, 2000 National Book Award Finalist for Blue Angel.) Nam Le, The Boat. (Selected by Mary Gaitskill, 2005 National Book Award Finalist for Veronica.) Fiona Maazel,  Last Last Chance. (Selected by Jim Shepard, 2007 National Book Award Finalist for Like You’d Understand, Anyway.)