(Lam, Shepard & Hadley share a drink after the event)For those of us who write short stories but are under constant pressure to write novels because story collections don’t sell, The Story Prize is a welcome reminder that short fiction still matters to some people. The Story Prize gives $20,000 to the author of an outstanding story collection published in English during the previous year. This year’s three finalists, selected by Story Prize director Larry Dark and Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey were Sunstroke and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, and Like You’d Understand, Anyway by Jim Shepard. On Wednesday, February 27th, at an award ceremony at The New School, literati gathered to hear each of the three finalists read an excerpt from one of their stories and then join Larry Dark on stage for a short conversation about their work. It was like being at a story writers’ version of the Oscars, where, instead of Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep, the dazzling stars in attendance included Amy Hempel, Jayne Anne Phillips and David Gates (who was a judge this year.) One Story Editor Hannah Tinti, Managing Editor Pei-Ling Lue and I were in the audience to savor every word. Any of these three phenomenal collections would have been worthy of the prize, but this year’s winner is Jim Shepard (who read for One Story on January 4th.) Jim’s acceptance speech was so generous in its praise of the other two collections that it was a reminder that every great writer is also a great reader. And speaking of reading, if you haven’t read these three collections, buy them now. You won’t be disappointed. To see a webcast of the entire event, go here.