Flannery O’Connor Award Anthologies
The University of Georgia Press has announced the publication of a new series of thematic short fiction anthologies that draw on the rich backlist of collections that have received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. To date over seventy books, amounting to more than seven hundred and fifty individual stories, have appeared in the series, which began in 1983. Under a unifying theme or subject, each new anthology will present entertaining, provocatively different takes on a single topic.
In March 2019 a pair of anthologies, one on love and the other on death, will inaugurate the project: Hold That Knowledge: Stories about Love from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and The Slow Release: Stories about Death from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. The Press plans on releasing four anthologies each year, focusing each on work, family, holidays, travel, and other subjects. The series is edited by Ethan Laughman, who has worked in both the editorial and marketing departments of the University of Georgia Press.
"This is possibly the first undertaking of its kind, among the various short fiction series or competitions,” says Laughman. “Think of it as the Flannery O’Connor Award unbound and rethought. These anthologies take hundreds of stories out of their familiar, single-author volumes and present them in a brand new way. With each anthology, we get the varied perspectives of multiple authors on our common concerns, issues, pleasures, or life events."
Work in Progress
My latest book, The Calling of Saint Matthew, is an episodic novel set in Rome and Croatia. The book’s central narrative begins on 26 December 2004, the morning of the devastating South-Asian tsunami that took the lives of over three hundred thousand people, and ends in April 2005, shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II. Additional chapters tell the story of the life of a Croatian cook and social worker, from her coming of age in Dubrovnik to her travels to Mostar and Medjugorge in Bosnia and Hercegovina, leading up to the time when she settles in Italy to live and work in Rome.
The novel's chapters cycle around these events and are filtered by the perspectives of several characters including a Boston stocks analyst and his pregnant wife; a young Montessori teacher from Vancouver, British Columbia; a Chicago-born hostess who takes leave from her job in Tokyo's Ginza district; a native Roman who works as a centurion outside the Colosseum; a pet-store owner from San Francisco; a divorced New York City academic; and a former Christian Brother. The novel also features several recurring figures, including a Roman performance artist attempting to reenact the life of Caravaggio, a young woman from Ferentino who plays the organetto at the foot of the Piazza Navona's Fountain of Four Rivers, an unscrupulous but highly knowlegeable German tour guide, and a former nun (kitchen sister) who left her cloistered convent in Croatia for a life of social service.
The Calling of Saint Matthew is also a book about the city of Rome itself, as each of its sections reflects, and draws it central narrative from, the art and history of one or more of Rome's churches and basilicas. Here I think of Richard Hugo's masterwork, The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing, and his concept of a triggering subject. The novel is also patterned after Krzysztof Kieślowski's work, adapting aspects of his series The Decalogue (an interconnected series of ten short films triggered by the Ten Commandments) as well as his Three Colors trilogy and his fascinating masterpiece The Double Life of Véronique.
Short Stories in Italian Anthologies
An exciting collection of contemporary short fiction featuring the work of eight North American writers of Italian descent has been published in Italy by Manni Editori. The anthology, Uè paisà: Racconti dall’identità italoamericana, is one of the first Italian collections to feature contemporary Italian American writers in translation. The book was edited and translated by Carla Francellini, Professor of Comparative Literature and Literary Translation at the University of Siena.
The anthology offers three of Ardizzone's short stories for Italian readers: "The Eyes of Children," which first appeared in his collection The Evening News, recipient of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction; "The Man in the Movie," which was included in his collection Taking It Home: Stories from the Neighborhood, published by the University of Illinois Press; and a new, uncollected short story, "What I Learned from the Good Sisters of Christian Charity During My Nine Years of Roman Catholic Grammar School in Chicago," which was published in The Louisville Review.
In addition, translations by Carla De Rosa of two other Ardizzone short stories, "World Without End" and "The Transplant," both of which first appeared in The Evening News, are forthcoming in another anthology of stories written by North American writers, to be published in 2019 by Artemide Edizioni.