Deborah Eisenberg

2000 Rea Award Winner Deborah Eisenberg
Photo: Diana Michener

Litchfield County Times
Litchfield, CT
May 5, 2000

A New York City Writer Wins Rea Award

by Jennifer A. Peyton

WASHINGTON—The Rea Award for the Short Story, a $30,000 annual prize established in 1986 by Michael M. Rea of Washington, has been awarded this year to Deborah Eisenberg of New York, who is the author of three acclaimed collections of short stories.

Mr. Rea, who was a passionate reader, collector of short stories and writer, died in 1996. But the literary prize that bears his name is still awarded yearly under the direction of his wife, Elizabeth Richebourg Rea, a photographer and curator who still resides in Washington.

It is said Mr. Rea established his award to encourage writer to maintain loyalty to the art of short fiction and to ennoble the form. His award is given not for one specific work, but I recognition of a writer’s originality and influence on the short story a genre. Past recipients have included Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Bowles, Eudora Welty and Grace Paley. The jurors for this year’s award were Will Blythe, William H. Gass and Francine Prose.

Born in Chicago in 1945, Ms. Eisenberg has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN Hemmingway Citation and three O. Henry Awards. In 1993 she received the Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her short-story collections include Transactions in a Foreign Currency, published in 1986, Under the 82nd Airborne, from 1992, and All Around Atlantis, from 1997. Ms. Eisenberg’s work has appeared in the The New Yorker and The Yale Review. Her play, Pastorale, was produced in New York I 1982, and she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia.

According to a press release, Mr. Rea, who was a native of New York City and a World War II veteran, established the Dungannon Foundation, named for his paternal hometown in Northern Ireland, to administer his annual short-story award. “The Irish were great storytellers,” he was quoted as having said. “The basic thrust of the award is to foster a literary cause—to ennoble the form, to give it prestige.”