Friday, February 13, 2009

Kathryn Ma wins the Iowa Short FIction Prize

Every once in a while, a talented writer gets a break that you know is going to bring them the critical attention their work deserves.

Such is the case with San Francisco writer Kathryn Ma. A former attorney-turned-full-time-writer, Ma’s short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Threepenny Review. Now Ma has won one of the most prestigious prizes of all – the Iowa Short Fiction award. It’s a contest where hundreds of writers from around the country submit their short story manuscripts and one is selected for publication.

Ma’s story collection, All That Work And Still No Boys, won the competition. It will be published by University of Iowa Press in October 2009. “In this collection, Ma’s sharply-observed stories expose the deepest fears and longings that we mask in family life and observe the long shadows cast by history and displacement,” according to the press release announcing Ma’s selection.

To make the award even more sweet, Ma’s manuscript was selected by Curtis Sittenfeld, the author of the critically acclaimed books Prep and American Wife. (It’s always nice when a well-respected author likes your work.) In 2008, Ma won the Meyerson Award for Fiction from the Southwest Review for the story that gives the title to her forthcoming book. The judge in that competition was Jim Shepard, the author of Like You Would Understand, Anyway: Stories.

Ma, whose parents emigrated from China, has three daughters and I think her book refers to Chinese tradition where boys are more prized than girls.

I have know Kathryn for a few years. We met in Geyserville, a small town north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, where both our families have summer houses. We started talking because of our common interest in writing, and it’s a conversation that has never ended. We don’t see one another frequently, but when we do, we always dive right in to the world of books, writing, and publishing. Now there will be even more to talk about.

1 comment:

Susan Ito said...

Oh wow, that is SO EXCITING!!!! I was in a writing group with her about a hundred years ago, and I knew then she was so talented. I am thrilled to hear this news and excited about her new collection.