Jhumpa Lahiri was recently named winner of the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, more than two months in advance of the scheduled winner announcement. Judges Eileen Battersby, Rosalind Porter, and Liam Ronayne made an unprecedented decision not to issue a shortlist for the award and instead selected Lahiri as winner from among the thirty-nine semifinalists. Lahiri received thirty-five thousand euros (approximately $55,104) for her collection Unaccustomed Earth (Knopf, 2008).
“With a unanimous winner at this early stage we decided it would be a shame to compose a shortlist and put five other writers through unnecessary stress and suspense,” said award director Patrick Cotter in a statement on the Munster Literature Centre Web site. “Not only were the jury unanimous in their choice of Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth as the winner, they were unanimous in their belief that so outstanding was Lahiri’s achievement in this book that no other title was a serious contender.”
Lahiri’s first short story collection, The Interpreter of Maladies (Houghton Mifflin, 1999), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000. Her debut novel, The Namesake (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), was named a notable book of the year by the New York Times and New York Magazine, among other periodicals.
The O'Connor award will be presented to Lahiri on September 21, originally the date on which a winner was to be named, at the Frank O’Connor International Short Story festival in Cork, Ireland.