And the Winner Is: Matt Bell

By Ethan Comment

Matt Bell.jpg
The voting for the fifth annual StorySouth 2008 Million Writers Award is now over and the winning story is “Alex Trebek Never Eats Fried Chicken” by Matt Bell (originally published in Storyglossia). Matt wins the overall prize of $300, which is provided thanks to the sponsorship of the Edit Red Writing Community. Second place goes to “Friday Afternoons on Bus 51” by Sruthi Thekkiam (Blackbird).

The purpose of the Million Writers Award is to honor and promote the best fiction published in online literary journals and magazines during 2007. The cool thing about the Million Writers Award is that most of the major literary prizes for short fiction (such as the Best American Short Stories series and the O. Henry Awards) have ignored web-published fiction. This award aims to show that world-class fiction is being published online and to promote this fiction to the larger reading and literary community.

As for Matt Bell, he lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His writing has appeared or is upcoming in magazines such as Hobart, Barrelhouse, Caketrain, Juked, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and will be in the anthologies Best American Fantasy 2 and Online Writing: The Best of the First Ten Years. Bell is also the Book Review Editor for NewPages and will be a member of the Dzanc Writer in Residence Program for the 2008-2009 school year.

I asked Bell what he was looking for in books that he reviews:

I tend to review only books that I’m enthusiastic about. With the limited space and time I have available, I want to highlight good writing, often by new or emerging writers, and I want to spend at least part of the review trying to dive in critically and show how I think the book works and what makes it so good. That isn’t to say that I won’t be critical, only that the overall tone of the review is almost always positive as otherwise I wouldn’t bother. In the last couple of months, I’ve reviewed a wide range of books, including high profile debuts like Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff, as well as chapbooks by emerging writers like Suzanne Burns and Charles Jensen. There’s a lot of great writing out there, and I’m trying to cover as much of it as I can.