The Story Prize, an annual award for books of short fiction in its fifth year, has just announced its three finalists for 2008. These three books were selected from among 73 story collections published by 56 different publishers or imprints. The winner will be awarded a $20,000 cash prize, and each of two runners-up will receive $5,000.
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri. From Publisher's Weekly: "The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children—and that separates the children from India—remains Lahiri's subject for this follow-up to Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. In this set of eight stories, the results are again stunning."
Demons in the Spring by Joe Meno. From Publisher's Weekly: Spanning worlds, generations, cultures and environments, each of Meno's short stories in this stellar collection explores depression, loneliness and insanity in the world, while never quite offering a clear solution or glimmer of hope. Misery loves company, and Meno's assortment of off-center, morose characters fit seamlessly together.
Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolf. From Publisher's Weekly: Wolff's first story collection, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981), was a major salvo in the short story renaissance that included Raymond Carver. The 10 spare, elegant new stories here, collected with 21 stories from Wolff's three previous collections, are as good as anything Wolff has done. In most, there is a moment of realization, less a startling epiphany than a distant, gradual ache of understanding, that changes how the character looks at the world.