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Winner: 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank'

Jewish-American author Nathan Englander’s short story collection,“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” wins Short Story Award.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 7/11/2012, 5:52 PM

book signing
book signing
Reuters

Jewish-American author Nathan Englander’s short story collection titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” won the 2012 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

The panel of judges praised it as "powerful and resonant", and said that they were impressed by "the seasoned maturity shown by the author in stories multilayered in meaning and written in an austere, contemporary idiom applied to ancient ethnic themes".

"His prose, like the snow of good King Wenceslas, is deep and crisp and even, neither over-florid nor pedestrian," said judge and poet James Harpur. "Nathan Englander's stories are always well crafted, establishing a premise that has the promise of drama and tension: an upright citizen going to a peep show; a woman symbolically selling her child to a neighbour; the summer camp that begins to revive memories of a concentration camp; taking revenge on an antisemite bully."

The story from which the collection takes its title is a homage to Raymond Carver's “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and portrays two Jewish couples playing "the Righteous Gentile game", which necessitates discussing which of their acquaintances would protect them in the event of a Holocaust, The Guardian explains.

The collection of stories won out over collections by Israeli writer Etgar Keret, as well as Sarah Hall and Kevin Barry.

The prize is funded by Cork City Council and was established by the Munster Literature Centre in memory of renowned short story writer Frank O'Connor. 

This year, Englander also teamed up with Jewish-American author Jonathan Safran Foer to publish the "New American Haggadah," a more modern take on the traditional Passover Haggadah.