by Wendy Russ

April 27, 2016: Joy Williams has won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. The award was named after Bernard Malamud and is administered by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Williams is the 28th winner of this $5,000 prize.

Williams’s most recent novel, The Quick and the Dead, was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. Her book of essays, Ill Nature, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Richard Ford, a member of this year’s PEN/Malamud selection committee, said that Williams’s stories are “incandescent, witty, alarming, often hilarious while affecting seeming inadvertence (but not really) in their powerful access to our human condition.”

She is compared frequently to Raymond Carver and her work is described as comedic, dark, gritty, and often … visionary. And in many interviews Williams comes across as quirky as many of her characters. She admitted once her preferred choice of dying would be in a car crash (quick!) and she laments that there is no danger in literature, that in the future we must behold “the mysterious, undeserved beauty of the world.”


We have scoured the interwebs to bring you a sampling of Williams’s work that you can read for free online. We do the dirty work so you don’t have to.

Chicken Hill, The New Yorker, September 14, 2015

The Mission, Harpers Magazine, February 2014

Harmony, Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories, 1996

Escapes, Granta 19, June 1, 1986

The Skater, Escapes, Vintage, 1991