The University of Georgia Press announces a new collection of thematic short-fiction anthologies that draw on the rich backlist of its Flannery O’Connor Award series. The collection is titled Stories from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.
In spring 2019, the Press will begin regular publication of anthologies with contents drawn from the many short-story volumes published in the Flannery O’Connor Award series. To date, over 70 volumes, amounting to more than 750 individual stories, have appeared in the series, which began in 1983.
Under a unifying theme or subject, each new anthology will present entertaining, provocatively different takes on a single familiar topic. In March 2019, anthologies on love and death will inaugurate the project. These inaugural anthologies are titled Hold That Knowledge: Stories about Love from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and The Slow Release: Stories about Death from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Anthologies on work, family, holidays, travel, and other overarching subjects will follow.
Ethan Laughman, the project’s editor and a graduate of the UGA English program, has worked in both the editorial and marketing departments of the Press. One of the few who have read every Flannery O’Connor Award-winning volume, he has collaborated closely with the series authors in compiling these new anthologies.
“This is possibly the first undertaking of its kind, among the various short-fiction series or competitions,” says Laughman. “Think of it as the Flannery O’Connor Award unbound and rethought. These anthologies take hundreds of stories out of their familiar, single-author volumes and present them in a brand-new way. With each anthology, we get the varied perspectives of multiple authors on our common concerns, issues, pleasures, or life events. That could be—and will be—anything from friendship to animals to aging to children to food.”
“One of the biggest challenges we faced was one of abundance,” says Laughman. “Having read each story in every volume of the Flannery O’Connor Award series, I can say that the stories we ultimately include in any given anthology are not the only ones that could have been chosen. And, most stories could be included in more than one anthology. Some stories are included for their unique take on the theme at hand, and still others for exhibiting uniqueness in voice, character, place, time, plot, relevance, humor, timelessness, perspective—or any of the many other means by which a story might resonate with its readers.”
Arsen Kashkashian, buyer for the Boulder Book Store, agrees: “The Flannery O’Connor Award series features some of the finest writing in contemporary American fiction over the past few decades. It has introduced me to several exciting new writers. Arranging the stories thematically in these new anthologies will allow these writers to resonate off one another and reveal the concerns and obsessions of today’s fiction.”
“The Press will always be guided by the series’ initial calling: to discover and publish volumes of new short fiction by individual authors,” says Press Director Lisa Bayer. “At the same time, we want these new anthologies to focus attention on the entire corpus of stories, rather than its separate volumes.”
The Press is considering publishing two volumes per season, or four volumes per year. The anthologies will have a consistent look and feel, both inside and out, and will be released in simultaneous paperback and e-book editions.
“We want this to be an endeavor that independent bookstores will embrace, as they have been partners with us in the success of the series all along,” says Bayer. With that goal in mind, the Press is looking at a few different ways to help promote the project, including book and e-book packages and bookstore events involving multiple authors.