Stewart O'Nan's In the Walled City was chosen by Tobias Wolff as the winner of the thirteenth Drue Heinz Literature Prize. The collection of twelve short stories was selected from more than 375 manuscripts submitted to the contest by published writers. O'Nan gives us people who face a bleak and often hostile world but yearn for grace. A man who drives a van of terminal patients to their radiation treatments learns to accept their deaths. The feud between a widow and her hired hand ends with the recognition of each other's loneliness. A community joins to search for a missing child. For all his characters there is a saving optimism in the midst of tragedy. To survive larger losses, O'Nan's people find some small salvation or joy. After lunch the mail comes, the wind shifts, the sky brightens. Though the weight of events threatens them, parents still minister to children, wives suffer husbands, lovers touch. The world does not stop, and this in itself becomes a mystery worth respect and awe.
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December 01, 2007
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