[The JRB Daily] Three African writers—Jacob M’hango, ’Pemi Aguda and Arinze Ifeakandu—awarded prestigious O Henry Prize for Short Fiction

Zambian writer Jacob M’hango and Nigerian writers ’Pemi Aguda and Arinze Ifeakandu are among the winners of the prestigious O Henry Prize for Short Fiction.

The award is the oldest major prize for short fiction in America, given to ‘short stories of exceptional merit’ published in magazines.

M’hango has won the award for ‘The Mother’, first published by Short Story Day Africa in the 2021 anthology Disruption. This is the second major prize for this SSDA anthology, after Idza Luhumyo’s winning story ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ also won the 2022 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Aguda appears on the list for ‘The Hollow’, published in Zoetrope, while Ifeakandu makes the cut for ‘Happy Is a Doing Word’, published in the Kenyon Review.

This is a second O Henry Prize for Aguda, who won in 2022 for ‘Breastmilk’, published in One Story.

The twenty winners, including Ling Ma, Lisa Taddeo and Jamil Jan Kochai, will be published in an annual anthology, The Best Short Stories 2023: The O Henry Prize Winners, edited by Lauren Groff, in September.

Groff, who judges this year’s prize, says:

‘The Best Short Stories 2023 was assembled for you, dear reader, to give you a sense of the enormous range and capacity of the contemporary short story, to make you laugh, to bewilder and delight and scare you, to show you the thriving ecosystem of the short story as it existed in the world this strange third pandemic year, to give you a glimpse of the extraordinary diversity of voice and journal and nationality and subject matter that the short story, most vibrant of narrative forms, encompasses.

‘You will certainly like some of these stories more than others; some will be set at your current vibration levels; it seems likely to me that others that you may not appreciate just now will find you where you will be at some point in the future. If our adolescent mixtapes were a shy declaration of affection, please accept this year’s O Henry anthology for what it is: a loud declaration of love.’

2023 O Henry Prize for Short Fiction winners

  • Ling Ma, ‘Office Hours’, The Atlantic
  • Catherine Lacey, ‘Man Mountain’, Astra
  • Jonas Eika, ‘Me, Rory and Aurora’, translated from the Danish by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg, Granta
  • Gabriel Smith, ‘The Complete’, The Drift
  •  Jamil Jan Kochai, ‘The Haunting of Hajji Hotak’, The New Yorker
  • Lisa Taddeo, ‘Wisconsin’, The Sewanee Review
  • Rachel B Glaser, ‘Ira and the Whale’, The Paris Review
  • Naomi Shuyama-Gómez, ‘The Commander’s Teeth’, Michigan Quarterly Review
  • Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, ‘The Mad People of Paris’, translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead, Southwest Review
  • Shelby Kinney-Lang, ‘Snake and Submarine’, Zyzzyva
  • Jacob M’hango, ‘The Mother’, Short Story Day Africa
  • ’Pemi Aguda, ‘The Hollow’, Zoetrope
  • Cristina Rivera Garza, ‘Dream Man’, translated from the Spanish by Francisca González-Arias, Freeman’s
  • Grey Wolfe LaJoie, ‘The Locksmith’, The Threepenny Review
  • Kirstin Valdez Quade, ‘After Hours at the Acacia Park Pool’, American Short Fiction
  • Arinze Ifeakandu, ‘Happy Is a Doing Word’, Kenyon Review
  • David Ryan, ‘Elision’, New England Review
  • K-Ming Chang, ‘Xífù’, Electric Literature
  • Kathleen Alcott, ‘Temporary Housing’, Harper’s Magazine
  • Eamon McGuinness, ‘The Blackhills’, The Stinging Fly

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