Saunders wins Folio prize, sees boost for short story

By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. author George Saunders, whose short stories specialise in "darkly playful" twists of fate, said after winning the inaugural Folio literary prize worth 40,000 pounds on Monday he hoped it would draw attention to the role of the writer in society.

Saunders, 55, also saw the award as a further boost for the short story form, another of whose practitioners, the Canadian writer Alice Munro, won the Nobel Prize for Literature last year.

"It seems like a nice moment for it but I've been doing (short) stories since the '70s. It's sort of like in the women's magazines when they say red is back. You think, 'Well, when was it gone?' But it does seem like a good time for short stories."

Saunders, who started out as a geophysicist and worked in the oil fields of Sumatra before turning to writing, was selected from a shortlist of eight authors for the new prize sponsored by the Folio Society publisher of deluxe books.

At an awards ceremony in London, Saunders said he had to give up his oil exploration work and took up writing in part because when he was swimming in a river a colony of some 300 monkeys on a pipeline were defecating into the water.

"I thought, 'Oh, God, I wonder if that's okay' and it wasn't and I got really sick and that's really where the writing started because I got so sick I had to quit the job and went home...So I thank the monkeys tonight," he said.

Saunders said he hoped the award would raise the level of awareness of the importance of writers in public life, particularly in America where he said the cash prize would attract attention.

"I imagine the literary project as being a little bit of a leaky boat these days - you see in the States a writer can't get on TV," Saunders said.

"When 9/11 happened, nobody was asking writers what they thought and I thought it was a real problem....

"So what a prize does is maybe in just the most crass way it calls the culture's attention to this activity that's been a little marginalised."

The award's sponsors said it is intended to recognise "the best English-language fiction from around the world" that has been published in Britain, regardless of form, genre or the author's nationality.

"George Saunders's stories are both artful and profound," English novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw, the chair of the judges, said in a statement announcing the prize winner.

"Darkly playful, they take us to the edge of some of the most difficult questions of our time and force us to consider what lies behind and beyond them. His subject is the human self under ordinary and extraordinary pressure."

TEXAS AS A BOILING POT

The Texas-born Saunders, who was a recipient of the $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes called "the genius grant", in 2006, is a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University in New York.

He said that Texas where he spent his childhood had provided a rich background for his fiction.

"Texas is actually sort of a great boiling pot - everything is there," he said.

Saunders has written several collections of short fiction, including "Tenth of December" (Bloomsbury), a New York Times bestseller, as well as popular children's books.

"No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised, those Americans who struggle to pay the bills, make the rent, hold onto a job they might detest — folks who find their dreams slipping from their grasp as they frantically tread water, trying to keep from drowning," Michiko Kakutani wrote in a review of "Tenth of December" in The New York Times in January, 2013.

The other 2014 shortlisted titles were:

"Red Doc" by Anne Carson (Random House/Jonathan Cape)

"Schroder" by Amity Gaige (Faber & Faber)

"Last Friends" by Jane Gardam (Little, Brown)

"Benediction" by Kent Haruf (Picador)

"The Flame Throwers" by Rachel Kushner (Random House/Harvill Secker)

"A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing" by Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar Press)

"A Naked Singularity" by Sergio De La Pava (Maclehose Editions)

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Yahoo Cricket

Latest News

  • Mathematician John Nash, who inspired "A Beautiful Mind", killed in car crash
    Mathematician John Nash, who inspired "A Beautiful Mind", killed in car crash

    Mathematician John Nash, a Nobel Prize winner who inspired the movie "A Beautiful Mind," was killed in a car crash along with his wife in New Jersey, state police said on Sunday. The couple were in a taxi cab whose driver lost control and crashed into a guard rail on Saturday afternoon while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, said Sgt. Gregory Williams, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Police. Nash was 86 and his wife was 82, and were living in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, according …

  • Anushka feels 'terrible' on being sick, misses fun with DDD boys

    Kolkata, May 24 (IANS) Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma says she feels terrible on being sick and missing out on the fun here with the male members of the cast of "Dil Dhadakne Do" (DDD), who incidentally gorged on some of the famed sweets of West Bengal. The Zoya Akhtar-helmed movie also stars Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Shefali Shah, Farhan Akhtar and Ranveer Singh. Actors Anil, Ranveer and Farhan and producer Ritesh Sidhwani visited Kolkata to promote the movie during the Indian Premier …

  • Anushka has evolved as an actor, person: Ranveer

    Kolkata, May 24 (IANS) Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh on Sunday heaped praises on "Dil Dhadakne Do" (DDD) co-star and former flame Anushka Sharma for her growth as an actress and as a person. The duo were seen in "Ladies vs Ricky Bahl" and "Band Baaja Baaraat". In the Zoya Akhtar-directed DDD, Ranveer and Anushka form a part of the ensemble cast including Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Shefali Shah, Farhan Akhtar and others. …

  • 'Dil Dhadakne Do' a world-class film: Anil Kapoor

    Kolkata, May 24 (IANS) Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, who will be seen in the role of a patriarch of a dysfunctional Punjabi family in the forthcoming film "Dil Dhadakne Do", said the movie is a world-class project. Also starring Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Shefali Shah, Farhan Akhtar and Anushka Sharma, "Dil Dhadakne Do" (DDD) is a family film, said the 58-year-old veteran. "It is a family film. …

  • Hrithik, Ashutosh top Shabana Azmi's 'favourites list'

    Mumbai, May 24 (IANS) Veteran actress Shabana Azmi is looking forward to watching Hrithik Roshan-starrer "Mohenjo Daro", directed by Ashutosh Gowariker as both of them are on her "favourites list". …

  • Penguin film director gives climate warning in Cannes closer

    By Michael Roddy CANNES, France (Reuters) - The French director who charmed the world and won an Oscar with his 2005 documentary "March of the Penguins" will close the Cannes festival on a sombre note with a film about global warming that says not only the penguins should be worried. Luc Jacquet's "La Glace et le Ciel" (The Ice and the Sky), is not in competition but will be screened after the Palme d'Or winner is announced on Sunday night. The film is a portrait of the octogenarian French …

  • Every single child is unique: Priyanka Chopra

    Mumbai, May 24 (IANS) Giving thumbs-up to video "Dear Maa" with foreword narrated by actress Juhi Chawla on Down Syndrome awareness, "Mary Kom" star Priyanka Chopra says every child is "special in their own unique way". Do watch this," Priyanka, who supports Unicef's adolescent work in the country, tweeted on Sunday. The 32-year-old also posted the link of the three-and-half-minute video, which features the day-to-day life of children suffering from the genetic disorder. …

  • Salman to attend sister's reception in Himachal

    Shimla, May 24 (IANS) Bollywood superstar Salman Khan will be reaching Himachal Pradesh's Mandi town on Monday to attend his younger sister Arpita Khan's marriage reception, event organisers said on Sunday. The state government has declared the actor a state guest and will provide him a chopper to take him and his family to the venue from Chandigarh. Salman and his family will visit Mandi, the hometown of his sister's husband Aayush Sharma, for the first time to attend "dham", a traditional …

Loading...