The Story Prize is celebrating its 15th year! Congrats to them, and congrats to the three finalists for this year’s prize, announced this morning. They were selected from 108 submissions! The winner will be announced on March 6.

I’ve read some of the stories in these collections, and I think they are solid. Because I have always been a fan of Eisenberg, I’ll lean toward wanting her to win, but really I’m just happy this prize exists to shine some deserved light on story collections.

Here are the three finalists.

A Lucky Man
by Jamel Brinkley
Graywolf Press

Purchase the book on Amazon.

In the nine expansive, searching stories of A Lucky Man, fathers and sons attempt to salvage relationships with friends and family members and confront mistakes made in the past. An imaginative young boy from the Bronx goes swimming with his group from day camp at a backyard pool in the suburbs, and faces the effects of power and privilege in ways he can barely grasp. A teen intent on proving himself a man through the all-night revel of J’Ouvert can’t help but look out for his impressionable younger brother. A pair of college boys on the prowl follow two girls home from a party and have to own the uncomfortable truth of their desires. And at a capoeira conference, two brothers grapple with how to tell the story of their family, caught in the dance of their painful, fractured history.

Jamel Brinkley’s stories, in a debut that announces the arrival of a significant new voice, reflect the tenderness and vulnerability of black men and boys whose hopes sometimes betray them, especially in a world shaped by race, gender, and class?where luck may be the greatest fiction of all.


Your Duck Is My Duck
by Deborah Eisenberg
Ecco

Purchase the book on Amazon.

At times raucously hilarious, at times charming and delightful, at times as solemn and mysterious as a pond at midnight, Deborah Eisenberg’s stories gently compel us to confront the most disturbing truths about ourselves—from our intimate lives as lovers, parents, and children, to our equally troubling roles as citizens on a violent, terrifying planet.

Each of the six stories in Your Duck is My Duck, her first collection since 2006, has the heft and complexity of a novel. With her own inexorable but utterly unpredictable logic and her almost uncanny ability to conjure the strange states of mind and emotion that constitute our daily consciousness, Eisenberg pulls us as if by gossamer threads through her characters—a tormented woman whose face determines her destiny; a group of film actors shocked to read a book about their past; a privileged young man who unexpectedly falls into a love affair with a human rights worker caught up in an all-consuming quest that he doesn’t understand.

In Eisenberg’s world, the forces of money, sex, and power cannot be escaped, and the force of history, whether confronted or denied, cannot be evaded. No one writes better about time, tragedy and grief, and the indifferent but beautiful universe around us.


Lauren Groff FloridaFlorida
by Lauren Groff
Riverhead Books

Purchase the book on Amazon.

In her thrilling new book, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.

Past winners of The Story Prize

2005: The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticat
2006: The Hill Road, by Patrick O’Keefe
2007The Stories of Mary Gordon, by Mary Gordon
2008: Like You’d Understand, Anyway, by Jim Shephard
2009: Our Story Begins, by Tobias Wolff
2010: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin
2011: Memory Wall, by Anthony Doerr

2012: We Others: New & Selected Stories, by Steven Millhauser
2013: Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins
2014: Tenth of December, by George Saunders
2015: Thunderstruck, by Elizabeth McCracken
2016: Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson
2017: For a Little While, by Rick Bass
2018: Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout

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By |2019-01-09T19:00:56-04:00January 9th, 2019|Categories: News|5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. David January 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    I have read some things of all three authors. Here is my handicapping of the award:
    .
    1. Jamal Brinkley – A Lucky Man is a great collection of stories. Not a weak one in the lot. He’s my pick to win this.
    2. Deborah Eisenberg – I have not read anything from her newest book, but last fall I started reading stories from her first four books. So far they are all very strong. If that’s an indication of the quality in Your Duck Is My Duck – which I have and will read – then I’d place her book second.
    3. Lauren Groff – I have read the four stories in this collection that were published previously by The New Yorker and I don’t hate them, but I would’t give them any awards. I place her third on this list.
    .
    BUT! The great omission from the list is Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. It’s a crime that this book was not a finalist here and it would have been my clear pick to win had it been a finalist.
    .
    It is encouraging to note that both the collections by Brinkey and Thompson-Spires are their first. It’s always nice to see such great new talent have some success.

  2. Trevor Berrett January 9, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    I’ll get A Lucky Man and Heads of the Colored People on your recommendation, David!

    As for Eisenberg, I have read “Cross Off and Move On” from the collection. That was back in 2012, though, and I don’t really remember it. I did write a post at the time, though, so maybe that will help refresh my memory! Here it is.

  3. David January 10, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I hope you like the books, Trevor.

  4. Diana Cooper January 10, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    I recently read the Eisenberg book and thought it was marvelous. The stories were varied in tone and each one was a gem. I’d place it at #1. Also read the Groff and enjoyed it, though it was nowhere near the quality of Your Duck is My Duck. I have yet to read A Lucky Man but it’ll have to be an incredible group of stories to knock Eisenberg off her #1 perch!

  5. Trevor Berrett January 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Oh, that’s great to hear, Diana!

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