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

Wednesday, June 8 2011

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

By Donna Emert

MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho Professor Daniel Orozco is a working writer who teaches students how to become working writers in the University of Idaho’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 said. 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,” said 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 said. “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.
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.