By Mark Garcia-Prats
The shortlist for the annual £35,000 Frank O’Connor Short Story Award features an all American cast: T.C. Boyle, Ron Rash, Robin Black, Belle Boggs, and Laura Van den Berg- and British author David Constantine.
The announcement of the award’s shortlist comes amidst a flurry of heated discussion regarding Lee Siegel’s recent comments in the New York Observer that American fiction has become “culturally irrelevant”. The inclusion of five American authors in the award’s shortlist is a robust display of the strength of American short story writing. It makes one wonder what exactly about American fiction has become culturally irrelevant.
For Black, Boggs, and Van den Berg, each is shortlisted for their debut collection of short stories. It is also noteworthy that three of the collections come from independent publishers.
The award, which is in its sixth year, is said to offer the largest monetary award for short story writing. The winner will be announced in September at the conclusion of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival held in Cork, Ireland.