Kelly Sather Chosen as the 2023 Drue Heinz Literature Prize Winner

Kelly Sather Chosen as the 2023 Drue Heinz Literature Prize Winner

Kelly Sather Chosen as the 2023 Drue Heinz Literature Prize Winner

Kelly Sather of Larkspur, CA is the 2023 winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for a collection of short stories. Sather’s debut book, Small in Real Life, was selected by author Deesha Philyaw. The University of Pittsburgh Press will publish Small in Real Life this fall (on-sale date: October 3, 2023).

“This compact but mighty collection explores both the heights and depths of the unsavory business of being human,” says Philyaw, National Book Award finalist and author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. “With exquisite, emotionally rich prose, every single story surprises and unsettles. Tenderness co-exists with terror, beauty alongside betrayal. Characters are at turns earnest and terrible as they grapple with longing, lust, grief, regret, and disappointment in these utterly original stories. The heart of this brilliant collection is chaos—the way the universe is chaotic, unpredictable, and simply dazzling.”

The stories in Small in Real Life invoke the myth and melancholy of Southern California glamour, of starry-eyed women and men striving for their own Hollywood shimmer no matter the consequences. Exiled to a Malibu rehab, an alcoholic paparazzi spies on his celebrity friend for an online tabloid. Down to her last dollar, a Hollywood hanger-on steals designer handbags from her dying friend’s bungalow. Blinded by grief, an LA judge atones after condescending to a failed actress on a date. When hunger for power, fame, and love betrays the senses, we must reckon with false choices and our human struggle to appear brighter to our beholders. Small in Real Life offers an insider’s view of California, and the golden promises of possibility and redemption that have long made the West glitter.

“I’m thrilled and honored Deesha Philyaw selected my story collection for the Drue Heinz Prize,” reflected Sather. “When I submitted the manuscript I imagined this step towards publishing, but to hear the good news, that my stories were selected by a writer I admire so much and my first book will be published this year, was tremendous. I’m grateful to Deesha Philyaw, Drue Heinz and University of Pittsburgh Press for their support of the short story.

Kelly Sather is a writer, former entertainment lawyer, and screenwriter. Her stories and reviews have appeared in Santa Monica Review, J Journal, Pembroke Magazine, PANK, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. She grew up in Los Angeles and lives in Northern California. Her website is, and you can find her on Twitter (@kl_sather) and Instagram (@kl_sather).

In addition to publication by UPP, the Drue Heinz award also includes a cash prize of $15,000. Drue Heinz, who passed away in 2018, created the endowment for this accolade in 1981. Jane McCafferty is the managing editor for the Drue Heinz Prize.

Small in Real Life by Kelly Sather, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press with an on-sale date of October 3, 2023 · 150 pp · 6 x 9 · ISBN 9780822947998 · Cloth $24.00 · eBook available.

To request a review copy, interview, or to schedule an event, please contact Publicity Manager Lesley Rains at For social media partnerships, please contact Advertising and Social Media Manager Kelly Thomas at