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Edwidge Danticat Wins The Story Prize
for The Dew Breaker

Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker was announced on January 26, 2005 as the first-ever winner of The Story Prize, the $20,000 prize for short fiction that was established at the beginning of 2004. The award ceremony took place in New York City at Symphony Space as part of Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story. The Dew Breaker, published by the Alfred A. Knopf imprint of Random House, is a book of nine interconnected stories that center around a Haitian immigrant to the U.S. who has a dark past. The book has also been a Today Show Book Club choice and is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award to be announced in March.

The 36-year-old Danticat is the author of several books, including the short story collection Krik? Krak! which was a National Book Award finalist, as well as two other previous novels. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Callaloo, and other magazines as well as Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards.

Other finalists for The Story Prize were Cathy Day for The Circus in Winter and Joan Silber for Ideas of Heaven. Both of these books also happend to be collections of linked stories. Each finalist received $1,000. In all, 61 books were considered for the award.

Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story is a live reading series in conjunction with WNYC, New York Public Radio in which prominent stage and screen actors give voice to classic and contemporary short stories. Actresses Jane Curtain, Kate Burton, and Sonia Manzano read stories from the three finalists' works as part of the awards ceremony.

In January 2004, Larry Dark, well known for serving as series editor of the annual Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards collections from 1997 to 2002, announced The Story Prize, as a newly established annual book award backed by a private donor. The prize of $20,000 to an author of an original book-length work of short fiction is the richest annual book award in the United States, according to the organizers.

Dark, director of the prize, and advisory board member and founder Julie Lindsey selected the three finalists. Three independent judges -- author Dan Chaon, Chicago bookseller Ann Christophersen and Paris Review executive editor Brigid Hughes -- then selected the winner.

Eligibility for the award requires that books be short fiction, written in English, and first published in the United States during the calendar year under consideration. Entries for 2005 are now being accepted.

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In her third novel, The Dew Breaker, the prolific Edwidge Danticat spins a series of related stories around a shadowy central figure, a Haitian immigrant to the U.S. who reveals to his artist daughter that he is not, as she believes, a prison escapee, but a former prison guard, skilled in torture and the other violent control methods of a brutal regime. "Your father was the hunter," he confesses, "he was not the prey." Into this brilliant opening, Danticat tucks the seeds of all that follows: the tales of the prison guard's victims, of their families, of those who recognize him decades later on the streets of New York, of those who never see him again, but are so haunted that they believe he's still pursuing them. (A dew breaker, we learn, is a government functionary who comes in the early morning to arrest someone or to burn a house down, breaking the dew on the grass that he crosses.) Although it is frustrating, sometimes, to let go of one narrative thread to follow another, The Dew Breaker is a beautifully constructed novel that spirals back to the reformed prison guard at the end, while holding unanswered the question of redemption. --Regina Marler, ©


For more information, including application forms and further details about qualifications for The Story Prize, please visit the official website:

For more information on the Selected Shorts reading series, please visit Symphony Space.

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