Johnson wins Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award

Johnson wins Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award

Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson has won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for his short story "Nirvana".

The US author was presented with the £30,000 prize by Professor John Carey, who was a prize judge, at a ceremony this evening (Friday 4th April) at The Stationers' Hall, London.  
Johnson saw off competition from fellow American Marjorie Celona and fellow Pulitzer prize-winner Elizabeth Strout, as well as British-based authors Tahmima Anam, Jonathan Tel and debut author Anna Metcalfe. The shortlisted authors all received £1,000.
 
The Prize was judged by Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, novelist and comic David Baddiel, writer Sarah Hall, Andrew Holgate, literary editor of The Sunday Times, and Lord Matthew Evans, chairman of EFG Private Bank (non-voting chair of judges), in addition to Carey.

In his presentation speech, Carey described "Nirvana" as “a mind-expanding, futurist story, and a story about redemption”. Baddiel added: “I loved ‘Nirvana’. It was both sad and, rare in literary-competition-land, funny. Plus it proves that genre fiction - the story is, at heart, science fiction - can work, emotionally and artistically, at the highest levels.”

In the winning story, a husband uses technology, a dead president and Kurt Cobain to confront his own grief and to try to alleviate his wife's suffering as she deteriorates from a wasting illness.

Johnson said the story was inspired “by a combination of my wife’s struggle with cancer and a friend who took his own life...I began asking questions about what our duty is to dying people and the departed, where they go, what remains and how we speak to them and share what they go through.”

Johnson is associate professor of English at Stanford University. He was a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow. His second novel, The Orphan Master's Son (Black Swan), received the 2013 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award was launched in 2010. Johnson is the fifth consecutive international winner of the Prize. Last year’s winner was Dominican-American Junot Díaz for his story ‘Miss Lora’.