Claire Vaye Watkins wins U.S. Story Prize for short fiction

by |March 14, 2013

Author Claire Vaye Watkins was awarded the Story Prize in New York this morning for her debut collection, Battleborn. As winner she receives $20,000.

She faced some tough competition for the prize, with celebrated writers Dan Chaon and Junot Diaz also on the shortlist. Dan Chaon was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, while Junot Diaz was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for the incredible The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Neither Chaon or Diaz left empty-handed however, collecting a cool $5,000 for their works Stay Awake, and This Is How You Lose Her

The judges wrote in a release about the prize, “In the ten stories in her first collection, Claire Vaye Watkins takes an unflinching look at the apocalyptic dimensions of our culture’s boom-or-bust obsession…. She’s a fierce and original new writer, and Battleborn is an astonishing short story collection.”

This year marks the ninth anniversary of the Story Prize,  the most significant award in the U.S. dedicated to collections of short fiction.

About the Finalists

Claire Vaye Watkins was born and raised in the Mojave Desert. Her collection of short stories, Battleborn, won a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and earned Watkins inclusion on the National Book Foundation’s list of “5 Under 35.” A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, She earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011, Best of the Southwest 2013, and elsewhere. An assistant professor at Bucknell University, Watkins is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Dan Chaon is the author of Stay Awake, Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and is the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; as well as This is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and the critically acclaimed Drown. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, and numerous Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award among other accolades. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Click here to buy the winner of The 2012 The Short Story Prize Battleborn from
Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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