Carnegie Mellon University
June 24, 2016

Creative Writing Alumna Wins National Fiction Prize

Anne Ray Anne Ray

Anne Ray (CW'00) has won the national Danahy Fiction Prize for her short story, “Please Repeat My Name.” The Danahy Fiction Prize is given annually for previously unpublished works of short fiction entries that are judged by “Tampa Review,” the faculty-edited literary journal of the University of Tampa. Ray received a $1,000 award for her story, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal.

In her story, Ray's main character Audrey has been called for jury duty. In a courtroom setting, Audrey moves through the various stages of the jury selection process.

According to a University of Tampa Press announcement, “The ‘Tampa Review’ editors who judged this year’s contest were especially impressed by the ways that Ray allowed the courtroom setting to introduce large and universal questions of values and judgment, while maintaining the close psychological focus on Audrey.”

Ray told the Press that her story was inspired by her own jury duty experience. 

“It was strange to me, while I was sitting on the jury, how such a common—and specifically American—experience was so isolating,” she said. “The world of my desk job disintegrated; I was there and nowhere else. Putting Audrey in such a setting, with its absurdity and flatness, brought me pain; giving her a moment of tenderness in that same place brought me joy.”

Ray is the 2014 winner of the “StoryQuarterly” Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, such as the “Gettysburg Review,” “Opium Magazine,” “LIT,” “Conduit” and “Gulf Coast.” She also authored the libretto for “Symposium,” a ten-minute opera that was performed by the Juventas New Music Ensemble in 2011. Ray was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

She earned a master of fine arts degree in fiction from City University of New York and before that, Ray was a Fifth Year Scholar at CMU. The program provides a small number of exceptional students the opportunity to stay on campus for a year after graduation to pursue a broadened educational experience.

Jim Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English was Ray’s teacher and mentor.

“She was a passionate, committed member of our Creative Writing Program at CMU, very involved in all the program activities,” he said. “Her own writing is filled with the same passion and commitment. She was a real pleasure to have in class—a great contributor to discussion, and to the sense of community in the classroom.”

Ray won a Carnegie Mellon Adamson Student Writing Award for a fiction story she wrote during her senior year. She said the award encouraged her.

Ray, who also holds a bachelor's degree in history & policy from CMU, said she appreciated the ability to study multiple disciplines.

“Carnegie Mellon taught me that it was ok to love many things, to participate in many disciplines and many modes of thinking and that my life would be richer for it; my mind would be better for it,” she said. “I was perhaps naturally inclined this way when I got to Carnegie Mellon, but being there allowed me to turn a natural curiosity into an asset and a skill.”

Ray currently lives in Brooklyn, NY where she is the senior licensing editor for JSTOR, a digital library of academic journals, books and primary sources.  

Paul and Georgia Danahy established the Danahy Fiction Prize one decade ago.

Learn more about the prize.

By Amanda King