Dame Fiona Kidman
Digging for Truffles: Why New Zealand short story anthologies are important
Early in the 21st century, it became apparent that there were few anthologies of contemporary New Zealand short stories available to the reading public. While there was an abundance of anthologies that collected masterpieces of the past with a couple of recent stories by currently fashionable names added on, there was nothing that reflected the vibrant here and now, such as the annual The Best American Short Stories collections.
Random House (now Penguin Random House) agreed to begin such a series, each annual edition containing twenty stories. As the editor of the first three volumes, it was soon evident just how difficult it was to find twenty up to the minute collections. Images like mining for gold or digging for truffles in dark places came to mind, the stories tucked away in a few small magazines, the one or two newspapers that ran short story competitions, the annual and now sadly abandoned Katherine Mansfield Prize. The rules for New Zealand story anthologies had to be reinvented in order to fill the pages of the anthologies. The result was sparkling new work.
Publishers’ margins dictated the end of the series six years later. Yet New Zealand writers continue to write hundreds of short stories that never see the light of day. This paper addresses the need for strong new outlets for well curated collections
Fiona Kidman is the author of some 30 publications that include 10 novels and six collections of short stories and is also a poet and playwright. She has edited four anthologies of New Zealand short stories. Her most recent story collection The Trouble with Fire was short listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the New Zealand Post Book Awards.