Things Famous People Said: Story Prize Round Up

By now you know that Claire Vaye Watkins’ Battleborn won at the last week’s 9th annual Story Prize, up against finalists Dan Chaon for Stay Awake and Junot Diaz for This is How You Lose Her. But did you catch how quotey everyone was?

Story Prize co-founder Larry Dark on the bad assness of the short story: “there’s been talk of a resurgence of short stories — and these certainly exemplify the trend — the excellence of American short fiction has been there all along.”

Granta editor John Freeman on the first time he read Watkins’ work — “it was like stepping out into a lightning field.”

Dan Chaon, reading the first line from a story: “Midnight and Daddy was on his way home to kill us all.” Excitement! At Larry Dark’s suggestion, Chaon will be writing about a Russian meteor and has asked that no one else do the same.

As Claire Vaye Watkins sat to be interviewed: “If you’re wondering whether feminism is still important” — she held up her microphone — “this mic is supposed to go on a belt…or a pocket…” and indicated the awkwardness of attaching it to her dress.

Why does Watkins write what she writes? “I try to go toward whatever I’m curious about, whatever freaks me out. I keep on marching towards it.”

Oh, and what is up with Yunior — the antihero from Junot Diaz’ fiction — and all his lady problems? “The honesty he can’t create in a relationship he creates with the reader,” Diaz said. “He lies all the time, but when he puts pen to paper he can’t lie. Like when you create a superhero and you give him a really stupid weakness.”

Finally, some Diaz style humility for all of us: “There ain’t nothin’ fuckin’ special about me, you guys. No fuckin’ lighting bolt on my forehead. There is no difference between us up here and ya’ll out there.” Which explains why Harry Potter has yet to be a Story Prize finalist.


Leah Schnelbach is at work on a novel in Manhattan — at least, she better be. She can sometimes be found on the internet.

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