Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction Celebrates 30 years of Literary Excellence

The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The University of Georgia Press publishes the winning collections each year. All of the collections are currently in print and most are available in either paperback or ebook editions.

The award was established to encourage gifted young writers by bringing their work to the attention of readers and reviewers. The first prize-winning books, EVENING OUT by David Walton and FROM THE BOTTOM UP by Leigh Allison Wilson, were published in 1983 to critical acclaim. The award has since become an important proving ground for new writers and a showcase for the talent and promise that have helped sustain interest in the short story form. Some of the most recognized names in short fiction today are Flannery O’Connor Award winners, including Mary Hood, Molly Giles, Antonya Nelson, Wendy Brenner, Ha Jin, and Gina Ochsner.

Award winners are selected through an annual competition that attracts as many as 450 manuscripts. The late Charles East, one-time editor-in-chief of the University of Georgia Press and an author of two story collections, was the first series editor. The current series editor, Nancy Zafris, is the former fiction editor for the Kenyon Review and a Flannery O’Connor Award winner for her first collection, THE PEOPLE I KNOW.  This year’s competition will begin April 1. Electronic submissions will be accepted until May 31, and the winners will be announced this fall.

In March, two anthologies that span the history of the award will be available exclusively as ebooks. STORIES FROM THE FLANNERY O'CONNOR AWARD: A 30TH ANNIVERSARY: THE RECENT YEARS is edited by Nancy Zafris and includes selections from volumes published in the past fifteen years (1998-2012). STORIES FROM THE FLANNERY O'CONNOR AWARD: A 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY: THE EARLY YEARS is edited by Charles East and covers the first fifteen years (1983-1997).

The press will also be celebrating the anniversary with events around the country, including the Georgia Literary Festival.

A panel at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference will feature past winners E. J. Levy, Lori Ostlund, Bill Roorbach, Amina Gautier, and Jessica Treadway and will be moderated by Nancy Zafris. Following the panel will be a reception that will jointly celebrate the 30th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the press. The conference will be held in Boston this March.

Throughout March, the press blog will feature posts by past winners and press interns, as well as other announcements and fun facts about the award, in “30 Days of the Flannery O’Connor Award.”

There will be at least two opportunities on the UGA campus for students, faculty, staff, and members of the community to learn more about the competition and its winners. Display cases in the lobby of the main library currently showcase some of the winning collections and information about the anniversary. The display will be available throughout February. During an open house on April 18, the press will exhibit all of the books that received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.  The open house will be at the press offices on the third floor of the main library.
Photo credit: Jackie Baxter Roberts