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English Department Hosts Cincinnati Short Story Festival With
John Updike, ZZ Packer and More

Date: March 15, 2001
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Archive: General News

Detailed schedule

Speakers' bios

Compared to the novel, the "short story" has always been the neglected or ignored child. But not for six days in April when the University of Cincinnati English department sponsors an 11-event festival devoted solely to this genre.

The Cincinnati Short Story Festival April 17-19 and April 24-26 will bring some of the biggest names in American short story writing to Greater Cincinnati. Among them will be:

John Updike

  • John Updike and Lorrie Moore, two of the nation's top short story writers.
  • ZZ Packer, an important new voice in the American short story scene.
  • Susan Lohafer and Charles May, well-known critics of the short story.
  • William H. Pritchard and Donald Greiner, distinguished American literary critics.

Organized by UC assistant professor of English James Schiff, the festival is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Mercantile Library, the Taft Memorial Fund, the Robert C. and Adele R. Schiff Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council. All but two of the events will be held on UC's main campus.

"While the short story emerged as a distinct literary genre in the 19th century, some would argue that its roots can be found in myth, legend, parable, fairy tale, anecdote and essay. Greek myth and the Bible are filled with short stories," said Schiff.

Although less short fiction than ever gets published today in major outlets like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper's, there has been a short story "renaissance" of sorts. For example, authors Nathan Englander and ZZ Packer earned six-figure advances for short-story collections. Annual collections, such as The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Awards: Prize Stories, have also sold well in recent years, according to Schiff.

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