From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why-am-I-not-on-the-New-Yorker-twenty-under-forty-list-and-oh-my-gosh-I-only-have-three-years-to-catch-up-to-Tea-Obreht Syndrome

Do you have it? I know I do. Unfortunately. Let me explain. A while ago the New Yorker put out a list of the best or most promising twenty writers under forty years of age (check the list out here). Almost all of those on the list have MFA's, many from the Iowa Writers Workshop, of course, and many of them have not only been published in the New Yorker but have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories. Tea Obreht is one of these, and she's the youngest. She was born in 1985 (meaning she is barely 25 years old) in Yugoslavia. An excerpt of her novel that is coming out next year was published in the New Yorker and then anthologized in Best American non-required reading in 2009 (so she was even younger), and she has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2010 and 2011. Did I mention she is only twenty-five?

I gave this spiel to my roommates and one said that Tea had a head-start on me because she was born in Yugoslavia. I think she has a point, which begs the question, how does one catch up to the experience level of someone born in Yugoslavia? Then again, Tea doesn't have the experience of growing up in the incredibly exotic town of Provo, Utah, now does she? I say that with sincere sarcasm, hoping I'm not deluding myself into thinking my life experiences could be as literarily worthy as hers, and knowing that they are because everyones is. To sum up that incredibly convoluted sentence, Provo, Yugoslavia, doesn't make a difference as long as one can write what they've got, and everyone's got something, right?

In case you couldn't tell, I'm partially writing this blog to work through my own syndrome, but hopefully it will help you all as well. See, it really doesn't matter that I'm not on the New Yorker Twenty under Forty list, or that I haven't been published in the New Yorker or anthologized in Best American Short Stories. Neither were Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, and they're pretty much awesomer than all of those twenty under forty combined (no offense, Tea, I do genuinely like your writing). I do hope that the New Yorker type people of the literary world will one day love, award, veneer, respect, study, analyze and publish me, but even if they never do you will still find me sitting at my computer writing until my fingers are too arthritic to move, which just means its time to hire a typist.

But still. Look for me on the next list.

Sarah Allen


  1. *blinks* Is 25 young? ;-) I'm not 25 (*cough*26*cough*) but this was an interesting post to read. There are a fair number of people I've seen getting published who are from Utah so maybe you'll be one of them. My degree is from Weber State though. lol

  2. 25 is very young! All these young-uns getting published in all these prestigious places makes me feel like I'm close to getting behind! Oh well. I hope you're right, and that Utah people are having some good luck, for both our sakes. And who cares where the degree is from as long as you write well! :-)

  3. I confess to Googling myself when I found you. I would love to go to the Iowa state MFA except that it is in the middle of nowhere. It's my dream to be in the New Yorker or McSweeny's. I too sometimes feel a little left out because I'm not from a fascinating place like Yugoslavia racked with issues. I'm from suburbia. Keep writing and don't worry about getting into the New Yorker as it requires an expensive literary agent to make all kinds of phone calls.


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