R250. Finding the Understory: What Connects a Collection

Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Thursday, March 8, 2018
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Story collections can gain resonant coherence through the very tissue that connects their individual pieces and yet remain unequivocally collections, resisting novelization, or overt linkages such as recurring characters. What are the risks and rewards of writing a story collection with thematic through-lines? This panel will discuss collections that are unified by thematic currents but squarely resist novelization.



Laura van den Berg is the author of two short story collections, more recently The Isle of Youth, which received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the Bard Fiction Prize, and the novel Find Me. She is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University.

Mia Alvar is the author of In the Country, a collection of short stories, which won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award.

Nina McConigley is the author of the short-story collection Cowboys and East Indians, winner of the PEN Open Book Award. She teaches at the University of Wyoming and at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

Ramona Ausubel

Helen Phillips is the author of four books, including the collection Some Possible Solutions, winner of the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for The L.A. Times Book Prize and the NYPL's Young Lions Award.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center