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Nathan Englander wins Frank O'Connor Award

10th July 2012

US author Nathan Englander has won the 2012 Frank O'Connor Award, which carries the world's richest prize for a short story collection.

Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank beat off competition from a strong shortlist to win the award, which is presented each year by the Munster Literature Centre, in association with Cork City Council, to the finest collection of stories published in English in the previous 12-month period.

The other shortlisted candidates included Kevin Barry, who was the favourite for the award after his acclaimed collection Dark Lies the Island recently scooped the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize.

Etgar Keret, who was unsuccessfully shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor Award in 2007, was once again in contention in 2012 with Suddenly a Knock on the Door, along with former Man Booker Prize winner Sarah Hall, for her first short story collection The Beautiful Indifference.

The shortlist was completed by Lucia Perillo's Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain and Fiona Kidman's The Trouble with Fire.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank drew major praise from contemporaries including Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan upon its publication and the Frank O'Connor judging panel was in agreement.

Judge and poet James Harpur said he was impressed by the 'powerful and resonant' collection and the 'seasoned maturity' shown by the author.

He added: 'Nathan Englander's stories are always well-crafted, establishing a premise that has the promise of drama and tension: an upright citizen going to a peep show; a woman symbolically selling her child to a neighbour; the summer camp that begins to revive memories of a concentration camp; taking revenge on an anti-Semite bully.

'His stories are multilayered in meaning and written in an austere, contemporary idiom applied to ancient ethnic themes.'

Englander follows in the footsteps of Edna O'Brien, who scooped the 2011 Frank O'Connor Short Story Award for her acclaimed collection Saints and Sinners.

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