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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other certified bibliophiles.

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Nov 15, 2008

Nam Le has won the £60,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. It recognizes the best young writer in the English-speaking world, with the goal of ensuring that the inspirational nature of Dylan’s writing lives on. I met with him in Toronto at the IFOA. This is part two of a series of interviews conducted with three acclaimed short storywriters: Rebecca Rosenblum, Nam Le, and Anne Enright. In each case we riff off those qualities which Flannery O’Connor thought best constituted a good short story.

Nam is author of The Boat, a collection of ’stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a fishing village in Australia to a floundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterful display of literary virtuosity and feeling.’

We talk, among other things, about never condescending to the reader, the prose having to be smarter than its author: tapping into things seen, but a just beyond their ken; gaps and allowing the reader to put their experiences into them; getting into the consciousness of characters; relinquishing ego; the difficulty of writing short stories — and the greatness of those who can do it well; spring-boarding detail and gearing it for expansion; and affecting paradoxical senses of recognition, wonder and redemption.