Loyola University New Orleans English instructor Anya Groner is the winner of a writing award and nationwide contest—the Meridian 2014 Editors’ Prize for Fiction. Groner won the award for her story “Buster,” a tale of childhood, fraying family ties and bird funerals. The award is given each year by Meridian, a semiannual literary journal produced at the University of Virginia with a commitment to showcasing new talent. Groner joins an outstanding pool of award-winning writers featured in the magazine, including Pulitzer Prize winners and National Book Award winners. Her winning piece will appear in the May 2014 issue of Meridian.
The award-winning story “Buster” is about 8-year-old twin sisters who are angry because their neighbor's cat keeps leaving dead birds in their front yard. To commemorate the birds' passing, the girls build a graveyard in a park and start burying the birds there. The deeper drama in the story is the girls' parents. Their mother passed away from a bone disease the previous March and, in August, the girls' father dropped them off at their grandmother's house and then disappeared.
An identical twin herself, Groner often writes about the conspiratorial and competitive relationship twins share as well as writing from a child's perspective. She draws on her experience as a writer to inspire her approach to teaching students in Loyola’s classrooms.
“As for teaching, creative writing courses are an absolute joy to teach. Students get to bring their full selves to class, and often use writing as an opportunity to deeply reflect about their own lives and the world around them,” Groner said. “While I believe the class time is essential for learning a craft, it’s often life experience that lends authority and passion to fiction. I encourage my students to identify their areas of expertise early in my writing courses, whether that is deer hunting, science fiction films, a love of Harry Potter or baking.”