Amy Hempel is the winner of the 2008 Rea Award for the Short Story for her achievements in short fiction, the Associated Press reported yesterday. The thirty-thousand-dollar prize is given to a living American or Canadian writer who has had a significant impact on the short story form.
"Amy Hempel is one of our masters of the dire emotional state rendered with an offhandedness that, combined with tenderness, results in fiction that's at once dispassionate and compassionate," said the Rea judges, whose names have not been announced, in a statement.
Hempel’s first book, Reasons to Live, published by Knopf in 1985, was followed by the story collections At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom (Knopf, 1990), The Dog of the Marriage (Scribner, 2005), and, most recently, The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel (Scribner, 2006).
The Rea Award was established in 1986 by Michael M. Rea, a publisher, book collector, and writer of short fiction. “The basic thrust of the award is to foster a literary cause, to ennoble the form, to give it prestige,” said Rea before his death in in 1996.