How do you know when a tale is any good? It’s a question Ander Monson tackles in the first paragraph of his short story “The Gnome.” As his narrator explains, “You know a story’s good when it will not abide its end, when it feels like a secret you might keep from your husband and your kid for a very long time indeed.” Monson’s story meets this standard, and his writing will make you look at your world a little differently.
Good stories attract recognition. Monson was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. A number of other Alta writers and review subjects have received impressive nods for their work in recent days. Vanessa Hua, Peter Orner, and Liska Jacobs were named to the longlist of 44 authors for the 2020 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize. The winner will receive a $50,000 award to encourage their future work. (Orner’s Maggie Brown & Others was also listed as the No. 2 selection for Oprah Magazine’s “best books” of 2019.)
Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly’s picks for the Best Books 2019. It also landed on the 2020 longlist for the Aspen Institute’s $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize (which isn’t that long, at just 16 titles).
And last month, Tommy Orange, whose debut novel, There There, was reviewed in Alta’s Summer 2018 issue, was awarded San Francisco State University’s 2019 Gina Berriault Award and participated in a presentation with the school’s assistant professor and writer Carolina De Robertis. (You can watch it here.) There Therehas already received the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.
So, if you’re searching for a good story to read, perhaps the pages of Alta would be a fine place to start.