Announcing The Story Prize Judges

The Story Prize, now in its 11th year, is pleased to announce its judges for 2014: Arsen Kashkashian, bookseller at the Boulder Book Store in Colorado; Noreen Tomassi, Executive Director of The Center for Fiction in New York; and award-winning author Laura van den Berg.They will choose the winner of The Story Prize from among the three books Director Larry Dark and Founder Julie Lindsey choose as finalists. Since its inception, The Story Prize has included judges from a variety of fields associated with short fiction. Past participants have included writers, editors, booksellers, librarians, critics, journalists, and academics.

Arsen KashKashian
Arsen Kashkashian
Noreen Tomassi
Noreen Tomassi
Laura van den Berg
Laura van den Berg

About the Judges

Arsen Kashkashian is the book buyer and general manager of the Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colorado. Kashkashian began his tenure at the store in 1992 as a clerk. After holding several jobs in the store,he started buying in 1997. He estimates he's seen close to a million titles come across his desk during that time. Kashkashian served a two-year term as the president of the Independent Booksellers Consortium. He received the 2006 Gordon Saull Award for outstanding bookseller from the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association. He authored the industry blog Kash's Book Corner from 2006 to 2010, and has contributed book reviews to the Daily Camera and the Boulder Weekly newspapers.

As Director of The Center for Fiction since December 2004, Noreen Tomassi has led its transition from the Mercantile Library, a private membership library, to a new incarnation as a literary center focused on the art of fiction. In this capacity, she presents nearly 100 writers a year and has established The Center's First Novel Prize; Maxwell Perkins Award, NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship Program; and its Books for NYC Schools/Kids Read program, which provides over 30,000 books to 40 NYC public schools. Before beginning her arts management career as an assistant in Play Development at McCarter Theatre, she acted in a series of off Broadway plays and wrote about the arts for various publications.

Laura van den Berg is the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, which was a Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection, and The Isle of Youth, which won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts& Letters and made more than a dozen "Best Book of 2013 lists, including those of NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Both collections were shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. The recipient of an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize, her work has been anthologized in The Best American Short StoriesThe Best American Mystery Stories,and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her first novel, Find Me, will be published in February 2015.

Mark Your Calendar: March 4,2015

On March 4, 2015, at The New School in New York City, we will announce the winning book and author after thethree finalists read from and discuss their work onstage. Leading up to that, Larry Dark, Director of The Story Prize, and Julie Lindsey, Founder, will select three story collections as finalists from among more than 90 entries. They will also announce the third ever winner of The Story Prize Spotlight Award, which pays $1,000 to anemerging or overlooked author. Judges Kashkashian, Tomassi, and van den Berg will decide the winner of the $20,000 top prize—the most of any annual U.S. book award for fiction


One of the most widely acclaimed books of 2013—Saunders' Tenth of December—has taken the $20,000 top prize.

George Saunders, winner of The Story Prize for 2013

George Saunders, winner of The Story Prize. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

New York, NY—At the end of an evening of readings and conversation with the three finalists for The Story Prize, author George Saunders of Oneonta, N.Y., took the stage at The New School's auditorium and accepted the top prize of $20,000 for Tenth of December (Random House), a critically praised short story collection that encompasses broad comedy, biting satire, and selfless acts of courage—often within a single story.

Ten must surely be Mr. Saunders' lucky number: He is the tenth winner of The Story Prize for a collection of ten stories called Tenth of December, that in 2013 spent ten consecutive weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover books. The book reached as high as no. 2 on that list, and the paperback edition has been on the trade fiction list for six weeks now.

His previous collection, In Persuasion Nation (2006), was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007, which makes him the first to twice achieve this distinction. The other finalists for books published in 2013 were authors Andrea Barrett for Archangel (W.W. Norton) and Rebecca Lee for Bobcat (Algonquin Books).

At the event at The New School, all three finalists read from and discussed their work on-stage with Larry Dark, Director of The Story Prize, before the founder of the prize, Julie Lindsey, announced Saunders as the winner. The $20,000 award he received remains the largest first-prize amount of any annual U.S. book award for fiction. As runners-up, Barrett and Lee each received $5,000.

Dark and Lindsey selected the three finalists for The Story Prize from among 96 books entered in 2013, representing 64 different publishers and imprints. Three judges read the three short story collections chosen as finalists and voted to determine the winner of the award. The judges were:

  • Stephen Ennis, Director of the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin;
  • Award-winning author Antonya Nelson; and
  • Rob Spillman, Editor of literary magazine Tin House.

In addition to Tenth of December, Saunders is the author of six previous books, including the story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He won the 2013 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story and was included in Time's 2013 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Saunders teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University, where he also began his career, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing.

The Story Prize was established by Julie Lindsey and is underwritten by the Chisholm Foundation. The Director, Larry Dark, served as Series Editor for the annual Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, from 1997 to 2002 and has edited four other anthologies. An eighteen-member advisory board offers support and advice.

Previous Winners of The Story Prize



By Claire Vaye Watkins

Buy this book


We Others: New & Selected Stories

By Steven Millhauser

Buy this book


Memory Wall

By Anthony Doerr

Buy this book


In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

By Daniyal Mueenuddin

Buy this book


Our Story Begins

By Tobias Wolff

Buy this book


Like You'd Understand, Anyway

By Jim Shepard

Buy this book


The Stories of Mary Gordon

By Mary Gordon

Buy this book


The Hill Road

By Patrick O'Keeffe

Buy this book


The Dew Breaker

By Edwidge Danticat

Buy this book

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