By Nathan Davidovich
The Sunday Times announced the lineup for the EFG Short Story Award, which Drew University professor Courtney Zoffness, Director of Drew’s Creative Writing Program. Before coming to Drew, Zoffness was a professor at numerous universities, including Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Allegheny College and the University of Freiburg.
“I am both excited and shocked about my nomination,” said Zoffness. “It’s truly an honor to be in such fine company.” Zoffness received the nomination for her short story “Peanuts Aren’t Nuts,” which was made available to the public on March 19.
Every story submitted to this competition is read ‘blind,’ with no name recognition being associated with the stories. As a result, the finalists usually consist of a very diverse mix of well-known authors and previously unknown names.
In her story “Peanuts Aren’t Nuts” Zoffness explores the relationship between a high school student and her tutor, who happens to be highly over attentive, particularly in regards to her. The story takes a sinister twist when this tutor is arrested as a sexual predator. “As a literary writer who values diction and cadence as much as drama, I love working in a form that not only embraces such close attention to language, but depends on it,” she said.
Zoffness won the 2017 Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Prize as well as the 2016 American Literary Review Fiction Prize. She was also awarded the Emerging Writing Fellowship from the Center for Fiction, along with the MacDowell Colony and the Bread of Loaf Writers’ Conference. “But, this is my first time being nominated for an award of this stature,” she said. “I’m hoping for the best!”
Among the other nominees were Curtis Sittenfeld, Allegra Goodman, Victor Lodato, Molly McCloskey and Miranda July, many of whom are already established or critically-acclaimed authors and short fiction writers. Zoffness is the only author on the list that has yet to be published. However, The Sunday Times emphasized that she is “an exciting new voice.”
The winner of the event, who will be announced on April 26 at an awards gala in London, will receive £30,000 while the five other writers that make up the shortlist will be awarded £1,000. On her chances of being awarded the grand prize, Zoffness said, “Getting the opportunity to go to London- to be on stage with these accomplished writers- is an award in and of itself!”
Image Courtesy of Drew.edu