Timothy Tau Wins Fourth-Annual Asian American Short Story Contest

November 7, 2011

                                           author Timothy Tau


Hyphen and The Asian American Writers’ Workshop have selected Timothy Tau as the 2011 Asian American Short Story Contest winner for “The Understudy,” a story about an Asian American actor trying to make it in Hollywood.

Tau is a filmmaker whose short films and music videos have screened at a number of film festivals worldwide. His short story "Land of Origin" won Second Prize in the 2010 Playboy College Fiction Contest. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Hastings College of the Law.

In "The Understudy," Tau introduces Jack Chang, an actor who has given up a profitable future in the family practice of treating ear, nose and throat disorders in order to try his luck in Hollywood. Unfortunately, he finds his acting jobs reduced to portraying Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan at Joe Tinseltown's Diner Museum. "The Understudy" will be published in the winter 2011 issue of Hyphen, on newsstands now, and Tau will be awarded $1,000.  

The Asian American Short Story Contest -- now in its fourth year -- is held in partnership between Hyphen and The Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the nation’s premiere nonprofit dedicated to great writing by Asian Americans. Open to all writers of Asian descent living in the United States and Canada, the contest continues to be the only one of its kind and aims to highlight the diverse voices and literary strength coming out of the Asian American community.

Tau's story was selected by judges Yiyun Li (a 2010 MacArthur Fellow and author of the award-winning novel, The Vagrants and the short story collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers), and Porochista Khakpour (whose novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects was picked as a New York Times "Editor's Choice").

"Full of vibrating energy, ‘The Understudy’ is an exciting story to read; better, the excitement does not fizz off but makes a reader think afterward," said Li.

"A psychological thriller successfully pulled off in second person -- alone a feat worthy of mention -- and cautionary tale about what happens when you entirely live for and therefore ultimately lose everything but your art," said Khakpour. "At surface glance, it can make one think ‘Chinese thespian Black Swan,’ but the wild, brainy, dark and dazzling prose is in a league of its own.”

This year, the contest named William Shih as the runner-up winner for his story "The End of a Summer-like Day" and eight finalists: Uthaya Kumar for “Men at Meal Time,” Sameer Pandya for “Victoria Terminus,” Fan Wu for “The Guest,” William Shih for “A Visit from Great-Uncle,” William Shih for “Burying Big Treasure,” Serena Lin for “Where You Are Supposed To Be,” Saskya Jain for “Urine Lane” and Shymala Dason for “Wayang Colors.” This year’s contest received a record-breaking number of submissions from across the United States and Canada.

Past winners include Preeta Samarasan, whose novel Evening is the Whole Day was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2009, Shivani Manghnani and Sunil Yapa. Past judges include prominent Asian American writers like Alexander Chee (Edinburgh), Jaed Coffin (A Chant to Sooth Wild Elephants), Brian Leung (World Famous Love Acts), Monique Truong (Book of Salt, Bitter in the Mouth) and Monica Ferrell (The Answer is Always Yes).