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Short Story Sublime - The Story Prize Awards Ceremony @ New School University

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On March 21, novel lovers, poets, short story slingers, editors, and publishers flooded the Tishman Auditorium at The New School to hear the finalists of The Story Prize read their works. While in years past the three finalist authors have been a mix of unknowns and legends, the spread of this year’s ceremony was familiar to all who soak up book culture. Don DeLillo, Steven Millhauser, and Edith Pearlman were all on hand to lend voices to the short story collections that have captivated the literary world in the past year. Founded in 2004 by Julie Lindsey, The Story Prize was conceived to honor short story collections that deserve more widespread acclaim that major fiction awards tend to overlook.

DeLillo, most acclaimed for his novels White Noise, Libra and the goliath Underworld, took a reprieve from long form and read excerpts from “The Starveling,” a short story of a loner film savant who spends his days in cinemas on the off-hours. When one female moviegoer strikes his curiosity, he projects an imagined personality onto her, transforming her into a character within his film-saturated world. Following the reading, DeLillo sat down with The Story Prize director Larry Dark to speak about his process on his collection, The Angel Esmeralda, and his impressive career with the written word.

Following DeLillo, Millhauser took the stage to read his winter-centric story, “Snowmen,” from his collection We Others. Millhauser continued with an unconventional route, reading what he called a “Thingamajig.” The “Thingamajig” erupted into a mix of poetics, sing-song lyrical tones, and an overshadowing theme of divorce, only made light of due to Millhauser’s spritely reading of lines like “He takes the cookware, she takes the cake.” Dark continued his emcee post inquiring about Millhauser’s familiarity with short story collections, his nostalgia for a pre-technology world and his creative protocol when hammering away at new works.

The third finalist, Edith Pearlman, has become an overnight cult charm to the literary realm. With over 250 published stories, Pearlman has managed to stay small with her following, but not for much longer. The only all-short form writer of the finalist bunch, Pearlman read her story “Mates,” from her collection Binocular Vision, which examines a couple living by their own set of values, honoring a different form of family and marriage in an otherworld, which gives the couple a pariah-like air. Pearlman later spoke of her fascination with creating worlds and landscapes out of pure imagination; several of her stories take place in Godolphin, a fictional Massachusetts suburb. 

At the close of the readings, Julie Lindsey presented The Story Prize to Steven Millhauser, who took home $20,000 and tremendous praise from the short story community. The 92 entries for the award were evaluated, judged, and narrowed to the three finalists by the notable Sherman Alexie, Breon Mitchell, and Louise Steinman. Equally brilliant and respected, DeLillo and Pearlman were each awarded $5,000 for their stunning collections.

The Story Prize is an annual event hosted in conjunction with The New School and McNally Jackson Books. To learn more, visit To find out about upcoming lectures and events in New York, visit — Melanie Baker

Posted on March 23, 2012 - by

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