Lori OstlundLori Ostlund

The Bigness of the World

Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Award, and the California Book Award, Lori Ostlund’s debut collection of stories about men and women confronting the unmapped and unexpected.

Scribner E-book reissue: September 22, 2015; Scribner paperback reissue: February 2016

In Lori Ostlund’s award-winning debut collection, people seeking escape from situations at home venture out into a world that they find is just as complicated and troubled as the one they left behind.

In prose highlighted by both satire and poignant observation, The Bigness of the World contains characters that represent a different sort of everyman—men and women who poke fun at ideological rigidity while holding fast to good grammar and manners, people seeking connections in a world that seems increasingly foreign. In “Upon Completion of Baldness,” a young woman shaves her head for a part in a movie in Hong Kong that will help her escape life with her lover in Albuquerque. In “All Boy,” a young logophile encounters the limits of language when he finds he prefers the comfort of a dark closet as he confronts the truth about his parents’ marriage. In “Dr. Daneau’s Punishment,” a math teacher leaving New York for Minnesota as a means of punishing himself engages in an unsettling method of discipline. In “Bed Death,” a lesbian couple travels to Malaysia to teach only to find their relationship crumbling. And in “Idyllic Little Bali,” a group of Americans gather around a pool in Java to discuss their brushes with fame and end up witnessing a man’s fatal flight from his wife.

In The Bigness of the World we see that wherever you are in the world, where you came from is never far away.

You can find reviews, links to buy the book, and read the backstory and excerpts from four of the stories here:


About the Flannery O'Connor Award:

(from its website)

"More than fifty short-story collections have appeared in the Flannery O'Connor Award series, which was established to encourage gifted emerging writers by bringing their work to a national readership. The first prize-winning book was published in 1983; the award has since become an important proving ground for writers and a showcase for the talent and promise that have brought about a resurgence in the short story as a genre. Winners are selected through an annual competition that attracts as many as three hundred manuscripts.

Winners of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction include such widely read authors as Ha Jin, Antonya Nelson, Rita Ciresi, and Mary Hood."

For more information, visit: The Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction website.