The writers who are household names today all got their start when an editor encountered their work for the first time and took a chance. PEN AMERICA BEST DEBUT SHORT STORIES 2017 celebrates twelve such moments of discovery.
This is the first volume of an annual anthology launched alongside PEN's new Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, which each year will recognize individuals who have had outstanding fiction debuts in a print or online literary magazine published in North America.
The dozen winning stories in this inaugural collection—selected by judges Kelly Link, Marie-Helene Bertino, and Nina McConigley from submissions by nearly one hundred journals—take place in South Carolina and in South Korea, on a farm in the eighteenth century and among the cubicles of a computer engineering firm in the present day. They narrate ancient themes with current urgency: migration, memory, technology, language, love, nuclear power, ecology, identity, family. Together they act as a weather vane for contemporary literature; they tell us where we're going.
Each work comes with an introduction by the editor who originally published it, explaining why he or she chose it. The commentaries provide insight into a process that often remains opaque to readers and aspiring writers, and offer a chance to showcase the vital work literary magazines do to nurture our boldest and most exciting new voices.
For the full list of 2017 honorees and journals, please click here.