The stories in Rituals to Observe: Stories about Holidays from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction amount to something more than a celebration of the holidays dotting calendars from month to month.
Even though holidays can occasion a return to the familiar, these stories challenge traditional associations. Each story serves to complicate how people observe the human observation of holidays and offers a nuanced understanding of related themes such as family and motherhood, travel, grief and mourning and memory. More generally, holidays are days of observance, and this collection emphasizes that aspect and offers a lot to unpack.
Ethan Laughman, the book’s editor, has worked in both the editorial and marketing departments of the University of Georgia Press. He is among the few who have read every Flannery O’Connor Award-winning volume. He collaborated closely with the series’ authors in compiling this new anthology as well as Spinning Away from the Center: Stories about Homesickness and Homecoming from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, which offers layered, perceptive takes on what home means to people through stories that confront their shared need of a place to call home.