Winners emerge in the 2024 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction

While our methods of storytelling have evolved drastically since O. Henry’s era, his enigmatic life continues to intrigue, per According to the outlet, a recently unearthed audio recording reveals his claim of simply documenting ordinary experiences might be a clever mask for his narrative brilliance, perhaps fueled by a dark secret – a past embezzlement and prison sentence.

Though O. Henry’s stories may not be as ubiquitous today, his spirit is alive in the 2024 O. Henry Prize winners. This year’s selection, chosen by Amor Towles, offers a glimpse into the creative processes of a diverse group of writers. Louis Menand, writing in The New Yorker, suggests these glimpses may not reveal the writers’ deepest secrets, but rather the magic they weave from the ordinary.

Following O. Henry’s belief that the unusual lies within the ordinary, these stories delve into the lives of everyday people. We encounter couples navigating car rides with strangers and cats, retiree caravans in the desert and starlit canoe journeys. Through vivid imagery, the collection allows us a peek into greenhouses overflowing with soccer balls and the hidden depths of human relationships.

In today’s world of curated online personas, the ability to recognise the humanity beneath the surface is crucial. This year’s O. Henry winners challenge us to see the fleeting glimpses of “secret selves” that spark empathy and connection.

The winning stories:

Emma Binder “Roy“, Gulf Coast

Michele Mari “The Soccer Balls of Mr. Kurz,” translated from the Italian by Brian Robert Moore, The New Yorker

Brad Felver “Orphans,” Subtropics

Morris Collins “The Home Visit,” Subtropics

Jai Chakrabarti “The Import,” Ploughshares

Amber Caron “Didi,” Electric Literature

Francisco González “Serranos,” McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

Caroline Kim “Hiding Spot,” New England Review

Katherine D. Stutzman “Junior,” Harvard Review

Juliana Leite “My Good Friend,” translated from the Portuguese by Zoë Perry, The Paris Review

Kate DiCamillo “The Castle of Rose Tellin,” Harper’s Magazine

Colin Barrett “Rain,” Granta

Robin Romm “Marital Problems,” The Sewanee Review

Allegra Goodman “The Last Grownup,” The New Yorker

Dave Eggers “The Honor of Your Presence,” One Story

E.K. Ota “The Paper Artist,” Ploughshares

Tom Crewe “The Room-Service Waiter,” Granta

Madeline ffitch “Seeing Through Maps,” Harper’s Magazine

Jess Walter “The Dark,” Ploughshares

Allegra Hyde “Mobilization,” Story

The full collection, “The Best Short Stories 2024: The O. Henry Prize Winners,” edited by Amor Towles and Jenny Minton Quigley, will be available in September by Vintage Books.

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