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Writer/Professor Daniel Orozco’s Story Collection in the Running for O’Connor Award

Daniel Orozco

Honor includes the largest monetary prize in the world for short stories 

Idaho Professor Daniel Orozco is a working writer who teaches students how to become working writers in the University’s MFA Creative Writing Program.

If the caliber of his story-telling is an indication, it is evident that to master a subject, it doesn’t hurt to teach it.

Orozco’s new collection of stories, “Orientation,” published this spring by Faber & Faber, has been long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. This prestigious award also offers the single biggest monetary prize in the world for a collection of short stories: €35,000 or approximately $51,000 U.S.

Orozco is a former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. He joined the University of Idaho MFA faculty in 2003. The job was originally a one-year appointment as a visiting professor, and became a tenure-track appointment.

“I didn't expect to stay going on eight years now, but here I am,” Orozco says. I'm glad it worked out.”

What does a working writer offer students that someone who is not publishing their stuff doesn’t?

“The same thing a working cabinetmaker offers to students, or a working sculptor or photographer,” says Orozco. “Those who practice their craft – who have their hands in it, making and doing, using the tools still – are best able to bring the craft to students.”

The 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize is awarded to the author of a collection of short stories published for the first time in English, anywhere in the world, between July 2010 and June 2011: selecteds, collecteds or books containing stories published in a previous volume of stories by the author are not eligible.

The recent inclusion of his name on the O’Connor Award long-list is an unexpected honor.

“It feels really good, and it means quite a lot,” Orozco saiys. “To be included among an international spectrum of writers is a profound and startling thing for me.”

A Publisher’s Weekly review calls “Orientation,” “a rewarding collection infused with wonderfully wrought landscapes and telling glimpses of alienation. . .Orozco displays considerable descriptive ability with an obsessive attention to banal details, spinning archetypes to complicate a cross-section of American society. . .This collection has been a long time coming, and it's been worth the wait.”

Orozco’s work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize anthology, and in publications including Harper’s Magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story, McSweeney’s, Ecotone and StoryQuarterly. He was awarded a 2006 NEA Fellowship in fiction and was a finalist for a 2006 National Magazine Award in fiction.

Orozco will kick off his book tour in Moscow, Idaho, with a reading at 7 p.m., Friday, June 10, to be delivered from a pickup truck in front of BookPeople on Main Street. He’ll read in Portland, Ore., at 7:30 p.m., June 23 at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, and at Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, Wash., at 7.p.m. on July 6.

Read full (and glowing) reviews of “Orientation” at: http://tinyurl.com/3pbtz8x; http://tinyurl.com/3zgwhfp; and at http://tinyurl.com/3weulfb.