Tobias Wolff, the acclaimed short story writer and memoirist (This Boys Life, In Pharaoh’s Army ), who served in the Army Special Forces in the Vietnam War, received the 2009 Story Prize for short fiction on March 4. He was honored for his 2008 collection, Our Story Begins.
The Story Prize, in its fifth year, includes a $20, 000 award. Wolff’s book and two other finalists were chosen from among 73 story collections published by 56 different publishers or imprints.
Wolff received the award and an engraved silver bowl at an the Story Prize awards ceremonies, which took place at The New School in New York City. The other finalists, Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth ) and Joe Meno (Demons in the Spring) , received $5, 000 prizes. The three authors also read from their work at the event.
Here’s what I had to say about the collection in my review, which appeared in the May-June 2008 issue of The VVA Veteran :
In this collection of old and new stories, Wolff creates one or two sharply drawn, compelling characters and puts them through fast-paced, intriguing stories that quickly come to a fascinating (if sometimes inconclusive) end. These stories are set in many different locations: college campuses, Army bases, prep schools, rural areas, cities.
A few deal with Vietnam veterans. But these aren’t Vietnam War stories. They are three decades worth of first-rate short fiction from one of the greatest literary lights of our generation.