Junot Díaz wins Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2013

Junot_Diaz

Dominican-American writer, Junot Díaz has been chosen as the winner of this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, for his story Miss Lora.

Recently a finalist for The Story Prize for the same collection that his winning story is taken from (This Is How You Lose Her), the former Pulitzer Prize winner beat off competition from a strong shortlist of six that included such names as Ali Smith, Mark Haddon and Sarah Hall, to pick up the cheque for £30,000 and become the latest winner of the world’s most lucrative prize for a single short story. Each of the shortlisted authors – including Toby Litt and Cynan Jones – each received a runners-up cheque of £1,000.

Speaking of Mr. Díaz’s winning story, which explores the subject of sexual relationships with an older woman, judge and Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, Andrew Holgate, had the following to say:

If the test of an outstanding short story is that it deepens with every reading, then Junot Díaz’s Miss Lora passes that test with flying colours. It is a rich, precise and challenging story whose emotional pull becomes more and more apparent with each revisit. Díaz is one of the most exciting voices in the language, and a wonderful addition to an already distinguished list of international winners.

Now in its fourth year, Mr. Díaz joins the roll of honour for the award, which includes previous winners Kevin Barry, Anthony Doerr, and C.K. Stead.

For further details, including a video interview with year’s winner, please visit the Booktrust website.

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Rob’s Reaction: As a big fan of Junot Díaz’s short fiction I’m obviously delighted that he’s won this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, but I don’t think he’s the worthiest winner, at least not for this award. There is no doubt that Miss Lora succeeds and that it can be read as a standalone story, but Mr. Díaz tends to write short stories that interlock with one another and as such there are threads embedded within the story which link it to something bigger. In other words, Miss Lora is a component of something greater, and I feel that the story loses some of its potency when read away from the rest of the collection. Certainly This Is How You Lose Her as a whole is more than deserving of any literary award. It was certainly worthy of making it as one of the three finalists of this year’s Story Prize – and I’ll be more than shocked if it doesn’t emerge as one of the strong favourites for this year’s Frank O’Connor Short Story Award – but as the winner of this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award I don’t think it quite cuts it.

So who did I think should have been crowned as the winner of this year’s Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award? Well, I’ve already put forward my own thoughts on this so I’m not going to go into it again, but I will say through the course of speaking to many of you that I’ve discovered that every story on the shortlist has its own diehard fans, and this has lead to much lively debate and discussion which has been a real delight to engage with.

For the layman at least, and for the promotion of the form, this is what is most important. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen many people getting turned on (quite literally :)) with the stories on this year’s shortlist, and most exciting of all, I’ve also seen a good number of people who would normally turn away from the short form, showing an interest.

This is what really warms me and motivates me because ultimately it doesn’t matter to the lover of short fiction who wins or loses these prizes in the long run, provided we are given the opportunity to wallow in the glory of our favourite form. And these past few weeks I, and many others, have seldom been away from the literary ‘mud pit’ as the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2013 has trundled towards its final destination. Once again I have a lot to be grateful for, and while I may be disappointed that my own choice of winner for this year’s award didn’t triumph, I couldn’t be happier that this award has once again brought the short story to the fore, and set the social networking portals a-buzzin’. I look forward to doing it all again next year.

So over to you guys. Are you happy with this year’s winner? What do you think of the prize as a whole? Has your interest in the short story been piqued? Please let me know in the comments below.

Oh and P.S. at the time of writing I have no idea who won the public vote that the Sunday Times was running concurrently with the prize. If anyone knows then I’d be grateful if you could fill me in. Thank you.

P.P.S. If you’ve yet to have the pleasure of reading Mr. Diaz’s winning story, you can do so via The New Yorker magazine.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. I see that you, myself, and two other reviewers on Amazon (US) all agree that Mark Haddon’s “The Gun” was the best among the 6 finalists. But the guy with the biggest name goes home with the prize. Too soon to call “fix”?

    Just kidding. I certainly agree that “Miss Lora” is a fine story. Maybe I’ll try reading it again to see if it “deepens with every reading” as the judges promise.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Ha…I wouldn’t even suggest for a minute that the outcome was any kind of fix, Karl.

      As for reading Miss Lora again to see if the story deepens? Good idea, although I would recommend getting a hold of the collection (if you haven’t got it alread) and reading the story in the context of the others. There I think is where the story really deepens.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I really appreciate it. And if you do find a big difference reading the story again. please drop by and tell me about it.
      Warmest
      Rob

  2. Wow! What a great, moving story. Thanks for the link. I loved ‘Drown’ and agree that Diaz’s work stands better locked together. The power triples. But this was good. I hope to get around to reading the others too. What Diaz’s stories make me wonder is whether a writer can milk a context indefinitely? I mean, will Diaz himself get sick of it? Not that there is any shallowness or repetition in his work, I was just wondering about context and material.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      That is a very interesting question Chillcat. I guess while he’s happy enough exploring his own culture and identity he’s unlikely to move on to something else. He seems intent on doing this too, like he’s on some kind of mission. Either that or he’s following the number one rule of writing i.e. only write about what you know. His perspective is certainly unique, or at least I’ve not come across any other writer who’s writing about the Dominican-American experience, so maybe he’s just happy to have found himself a niche that’s largely unexplored. An interesting thing to think about though. Thanks for bringing it up.
      Rob