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Richards, Susan Starr 1938–

Richards, Susan Starr 1938–


Born 1938, in Winter Park, FL; married Dick Richards (a horse breeder). Education: University of Florida, B.A.; University of Washington, M.A.


Racehorse breeder and trainer. Former instructor at the University of Kentucky; lecturer at Doane College, 2004.


National Fiction Prize, Thoroughbred Times, 1993, for "The Hanging in the Foaling Barn"; O. Henry Prize Story, 1994, for "The Hanging in the Foaling Barn"; National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; Kentucky Arts Council fellowship.


The Hanging in the Foaling Barn (short stories; includes "The Hanging in the Foaling Barn" and "Man Walking"), Sarabande (Louisville, KY), 2006.

"The Hanging in the Foaling Barn" was published in the Thoroughbred Times and in Prize Stories 1994: The O. Henry Awards, edited by William Abrahams, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1994. Richards's stories have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, Southern Review and have been anthologized in Best New Stories from the South. Contributor to magazines, including Ms., Essence, and New Woman.


Susan Starr Richards's first book, The Hanging in the Foaling Barn, is a collection of nine short stories, many previously published in literary journals, that take place in the equestrian world. Though Richards was born in Florida, she moved to Kentucky in 1961 to become a teacher. Since then she has spent much of her career breeding racehorses, finding the time to write during long nights in her own foaling barn while waiting for her mares to give birth. Her stories exhibit an intense bond with rural life that revolves around the seasons and the circles of life and death.

The book's title story was an O. Henry Prize Story in 1994, and concerns a suicidal ex-jockey who routinely threatens to kill himself each year at the end of foaling season. Two other stories include elements of the supernatural. In one of them, "Man Walking," a newly married couple has bought a large farm and plans to tear down the decrepit log house on the property. But the woman finds the house teeming with ghosts, one of which forms a special bond with her. Another story concerns a mother who cares for her adult child, a mentally handicapped man, and finds that he may be responsible for a series of brush fires in the area.

Most of Richards's stories exhibit a sense of humor and "inventive plot twists [that] make up a unique and varied collection," wrote Deborah Donovan in Booklist. A writer for Kirkus Reviews praised Richards's "stoic-toned, pared-down language," and a writer for Publishers Weekly stated that Richards's "most compassionate, articulate stories are grounded in everyday detail."



Booklist, March 1, 2006, Deborah Donovan, review of The Hanging in the Foaling Barn, p. 68.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2006, review of The Hanging in the Foaling Barn, p. 107.

Publishers Weekly, January 30, 2006, review of The Hanging in the Foaling Barn, p. 39.

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