Literary Deb Ball

2012 Literary Debutante Megan Mayhew Bergman is escorted by her mentor, Amy Hempel at last year’s One Story Literary Debutante Ball. Photo courtesy of One Story. 

Long recognized as a thriving mecca for aspiring and established writers, in New York City, hardly a night passes without some kind of literary event, whether that’s a reading, a poetry slam, a book signing, a lecture, or a release party. But of all the events in the NYC writing scene, nothing quite resembles the pure awesomeness that is One Story’s Annual Literary Debutante Ball.

For the last few years, the renowned literary magazine One Story (founded in 2002 by writer Hannah Tinti and publisher Maribeth Batcha, and named for their revolutionary decision to only publish one short story per monthly issue) has hosted the Literary Debutante Ball, which is just what it sounds like: a celebration of every One Story author who is publishing their debut novel or short story collection that year.

Only, the event’s format is a little different than most of the city’s other book release parties or awards ceremonies. The Literary Debutante Ball takes the form of a traditional debutante ball; each featured author is escorted into the ball by a mentor and must take a bow in front of all those attending. (For those of you who don’t know what happens at a deb ball, here’s a basic idea).

This year, the event will take place at Roulette (509 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn) starting at 7PM, and will honor seven literary debutantes:

  • L. Annette BinderRise (Sarabande Books)
  • Manuel GonzalesThe Miniature Wife (Riverhead Books)
  • Ben MillerRiver Bend Chronicle (Lookout Books)
  • Leigh NewmanStill Points North (Dial Press)
  • Ethan RutherfordThe Peripatetic Coffin (Ecco)
  • Claire Vaye WatkinsBattleborn (Riverhead)
  • Douglas WatsonThe Era of Not Quite (BOA Editions)


The ball also plans to honor three One Story staff members for releasing their debut books in the past year, and will honor author Dan Choan as Mentor of the Year. The ball will also host a silent auction to benefit the magazine, and representatives from several of New York’s publishing powerhouses (like Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, Penguin, and Random House) will be attending.

Here’s a clip from a previous Literary Debutante Ball:

Tickets start at $75 each, and you must be 21 to attend. For more information, please visit One Story’s website.

Get in touch with the author @kellitrapnell

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