We are thrilled to announce Carole Burns as the twenty-fifth annual John C. Zacharis First Book Award for her short-story collection, The Missing Woman and Other Stories (Parthian, 2015). The $1,500 award, which is named after a former president of Emerson College, honors the best debut book by a Ploughshares writer and alternates annually between poetry and fiction.
This year’s judge was Ladette Randolph, Ploughshares’ editor-in-chief. In choosing the book, Randolph says: “Carole Burns’ stories are beautifully written accounts of seemingly small moments that are in fact immeasurably important turning points in a character’s life. Taken together, the stories in this collection are delicately-faceted observations of those precise moments upon which a life hinges.”
For most of her life, Burns was a working journalist and not a fiction writer. She believes that her work as a journalist has had a tremendous influence on her work as a fiction writer. “Journalism,” she says, “has shaped my vision of the world. It’s an occupation–like funeral directors, and school teachers–that exposes you to people from every stratum of society, but as a journalist you’re given permission to ask them questions.”
According to Burns, The Missing Woman is a collection that represents “the accumulation of years of writing stories,” she says, “but it never quite felt like a collection until some years in when I wrote the title story. That title, ‘The Missing Woman,’ was one of the easy ones–such a natural decision–and after finishing the story, I realized the idea of a woman missing, or missing some metaphorical piece of herself, ran through much of my work.”
A full profile of Burns appears in the Winter 2015-16 issue of Ploughshares.
About Carole Burns
Burns’ short story collection, The Missing Woman, was published by the UK-based Parthian Books. A journalist as well as a fiction writer, Burns reviews books and interviews authors for The Washington Post. Her book Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between, published by W.W. Norton in 2008, was based on interviews with forty-three writers including Alice McDermott, Anthony Doerr, Colm Tóibín and Tobias Wolff. She is head of creative writing at the University of Southampton in the UK, and lives in Cardiff, Wales.
Burns’ short story “Before Letting Go” was published in our Fall 2014 issue guest edited by Percival Everett.