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Nov. 3, 2011 Volume 33, No. 11

English faculty wins O’Conner fiction award


Levy’s book available fall 2012

E.J. Levy, assistant professor of English, has been named a winner of this year’s Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award.

Levy’s collection of 10 short stories titled, “My Life in Theory,” will be published by the University of Georgia Press, available in fall 2012. The collection is linked by its engagement of scholarly theories — from Rational Choice Theory to Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class — which collectively explore love in the information age.

The competition, now in its 28th year, seeks to encourage the writers of excellent short stories and bring their work to a wider audience by offering publication of a book-length collection and a $1,000 prize. The Flannery O’Connor Award has helped launch the literary careers of previous winners, Ha Jin and Antonya Nelson.

The selection process is rigorous and is distinguished from other contests by the caliber of its preliminary judges.

“I believe we are the only one who has pretty high-profile writers and editors doing the preliminary round of judging, and they are paid well,” Nancy Zafris, the series editor said. “It makes a difference.”

This was Levy’s second try for the award. She was the runner-up last year and although she said she was disappointed, she took the editor’s suggestions for improvement to heart, resubmitted and hoped her collection would have another chance.

“I’m thrilled and amazed that it did,” Levy said. “I’m a huge fan of Flannery O’Connor’s work, so the fact that this bears her name gives it special charm.”

Stories from the collection have been published in some of the nation’s best-regarded literary journals, including “Paris Review,” “Gettysburg Review,” “The Missouri Review” and “North American Review,” and two have been recognized in “Best American Short Stories” as among the year’s distinguished stories. Levy has received a Pushcart Prize, a Nelson Algren Award, a Chicago Literary Award and several other national awards for her writing.

Levy said many agents told her story collections are impossible to market commercially and that she should link the stories to sell them as a novel.

“I’m grateful for the Flannery O’Connor series for keeping the short story form so vitally alive in this country,” Levy said. “The fact that the book will be released in hardcover, paperback and Kindle speaks to their commitment to the books they publish, and to their savvy in regard to the changing literary landscape.”

— Laura Lindsey