Boise writer Tony Doerr won the £30,000 (about $49,000) Sunday Times EFG Private Bank
Short Story Award 2011 at a banquet April 8 during the Oxford Literary Festival. It's the world's largest prize for short story fiction.
"I'm a little dazed. I can't believe it," Doerr said in a telephone interview after receiving the award. “I’ve been awake for about 24 hours. Now, I’m in this hall that was built in 1520-something with the who's who of London’s very good writers, people I admire. It’s so cool. ‘The Deep’ took two solid months of writing. It’s so gratifying to know people like it.”
(Above photo) Judge Melvin Bragg congratulates Doerr after the ceremony on April 8.
Doerr won the U.S. Story Prize in New York last month for his book "Memory Wall: Stories," (Scribner) last month. This award went to a new Doerr story, "The Deep," about a boy growing up in Detroit during the Great Depression with a heart condition. It was originally published by Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope literary magazine last fall.
"He's given 16 maybe 18 years to live and he know this when he's 4. It puts a lot of pressure on him, but it makes life more dazzling because he knows it will be short," Doerr said. "We're all terminal patients, and he's even more so."
One of the prize's judges Melvyn Bragg, described "The Deep" as "an outstanding work of fiction. It utterly captivated me from the first reading."
The British Granta magazine named Doerr, 37, one of its 21 Best of Young American Novelists.
Doerr was chosen from a pool of 20 writers, that was shortlisted to six a few weeks ago. The other finalists were Roshi Fernando, Yiyun Li, Will Cohu, Hilary Mantel, Gerard Woodward.
The Sunday Times will publish "The Deep" on April 10. You'll need to buy a subscription to read it. Eventually it will be available to download. I'll post when that happens.
Doerr is heading for Paris next week to research for his current book project, a novel about the influence of radio technology on World War II.