1986 Jurors


Bill Abrahams is one of the indisputable arbiters of the very best in short story writing. Editor for the last 19 years of PRIZE STORIES: THE O’HENRY AWARDS, he reads over 1,000 stories by United States writers to select the 19 to 23 outstanding examples for the volume. Sixty six editions of PRIZE STORIES have kept alive the series established in O’Henry’s name, set up by the Institute of Arts and Letters and later taken over by Doubleday. A former creative writing teacher at Stanford, Abrahams "loves the shape of the short story and the experience of its unique self-contained world." Like the drawings of a great artist he sees the short story as "very important and potentially as profound and as revealing as longer works."

Shannon Ravanel, attracted to the short story since she tried to write them in college, converted her love for the medium into a 15 year involvement with Houghton Mifflin’s BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES. She worked originally for six years with its former editor, Martha Foley, and then, for the last nine years, has held the key editorial position. In order to cull the best 120 stories for the volume, she reads some 1500 short stories from American and Canadian periodicals.

Ravanel, also editor of the Bright Leaf Short Fiction Series at Algonquin Books Inc. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has taught undergraduate courses in fiction at Washington University in St. Louis as a visiting professor of fiction in the English Department.

Peter Schmidt, as an Assistant English Professor at Swarthmore College, found the beauty of the short story after discovering that such early practitioners as Hawthorne and Melville used them as "little laboratories" for literary experimentation. Realizing that for teaching, the short story put concepts into bas relief and were on a scale that students could easily master, he pioneered courses solely devoted to the medium. Chosen to be a juror for The Rea Short Story Award because of this sensitivity, Schmidt’s published work is increasingly directed toward critiques in short contemporary fiction.