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.