The “Best,” the “West,” and the Rest

Each year, the good folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt come forth with their superb and superlatively titled Best American series—a collection of anthologies representing the year’s standout writing from publications across genres ranging from travel and sports to essays and short fiction.

This year, we’re thrilled to see Orion represented twice, in both The Best American Short Stories 2012 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012.

Selected for recognition in the latter anthology is “Deep Intellect” (Nov/Dec 2011), Sy Montogmery’s moving dip into the mind of octopuses (octopi, it turns out, has been discarded as the plural because of its Latin ending on a Greek word. However, as Sy has pointed out, the correct plural for applepus is still apple pie). And for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 2012, the anthology’s editors picked Edith Pearlman’s “Honeydew” (Sep/Oct 2011), a wondrous tale about a girl whose desire to become an ant begins to interfere with her homework:

She leaned against a birch. She had just left the library where she had been reading about ants’ circles of death. Sometimes ants, for no apparent reason, form a spiral and run in it continuously until they die of exhaustion. What kind of behavior was that from such an evolved creature? Oh, she had much to figure out.

Finally, hearty congratulations to Miroslav Penkov, whose short story about a Bulgarian village split by war, “East of the West,” has just received the 2012 BBC International Short Story Award.

“When I heard I’d won I completely blacked out, I almost forgot my English,” Miroslav says. “I used to make fun of people when I watched the Academy awards, when they’d go on stage and start crying. I used to think pull yourself together, but it is impossible.”

“East of the West,” which is one of several stories in a collection of the same name, was first published in the May/June 2011 issue of Orion. Listen to a brief interview with Miroslav here, and order issues containing all the aforementioned winners, here.