Fans of Zadie Smith rejoice, because she is back! And this time it’s with a collection that includes eleven never-before-published stories. Some narratives delve into the past while others imagine futures, including dystopian ones. No matter where your literary interests lie, you’ll find something to love in Grand Union.
The April 3rd Incident
Readers who’ve explored Hua’s more recent works will particularly enjoy this collection of stories that Hua penned between 1987 and 1991 and seeing how his writing has evolved over the years. But you need not actually have read anything else by Hua to enjoy The April 3rd Incident. It’s a compelling collection of vignettes that are by turns comedic and unsettling—in a good way.
If you’re looking for something zany, Fly Already is the way to go. Keret’s latest collection is steeped in dark humor, and its stories range from oddball to absurd. From story to story, he winds the clock forward, turns relationships on their head, amplifies technology and politics, and folds the fantastical into everyday life. One thing’s for certain: You won’t know what to expect.
Notes from the Fog
Read the first story in this collection—which centers on a father becoming increasingly concerned about his young son’s distant, seemingly hostile, behavior—and you’ll be hooked. Ben Marcus contemplates modern life, the ever-present sway of technology, and the human condition in these thirteen tales that are sometimes eerie, sometimes funny, and sometimes both.
Everyone seems to be raving about this new collection of eight short stories from Edwidge Danticat, author of the much-acclaimed Brother, I’m Dying and Breath, Eyes, Memory. The stories center on family, love, and home, and connections to Haiti, where Danticat was born, abound. Danticat has the ability to establish a sense of place and develop nuanced characters with just a couple of pages, and her skills are certainly on display in Everything Inside.
The O. Henry Prize Stories 100th Anniversary Edition (2019)
Stay up to the minute with this anthology of fantastic stories published in 2019 by both well-established and emerging writers. In addition to the twenty stories, you’ll also get essays that explore what makes them innovative and some behind-the-scenes context from the authors themselves. The perfect read for anyone looking for a mix of contemporary voices, styles, and narratives.
Sabrina & Corina
Sabrina & Corina, a beautiful and heart-rending collection of short stories centered on women of Indigenous descent and set in the ever-changing landscape of Colorado, is an absolute must-read. Themes of trauma and strength, death and life, modernity and heritage propel the raw, emotional narratives forward. Fajardo-Anstine’s characters will draw you in and pull at your heartstrings—but you’ll be saddest when you’ve reached the book’s final pages.
Orange World and Other Stories
This masterfully crafted collection from Pulitzer Prize finalist Karen Russell features stories that use ordinary life as a launching point for wonderfully bizarre, otherworldly narratives. You’ll find a teenager who falls in love with a 2,000-year-old girl lifted from a bog, a desperate mother who makes an unusual deal with the devil, a rancher raising a tornado, and so much more. Mysterious, fantastical, and limitlessly imaginative, this is magical realism done right.
The Stories of Alice Adams
I love the cover of this paperback edition of over fifty stories by the late Alice Adams. With narratives that span a range of settings and time periods, Adams examines complex human relationships between lovers, friends, family, employers, and strangers. She ponders the feelings we keep inside, the power dynamics that underlie all our interactions, and the unexpected turns of life itself. This collection clocks in at 800 pages, and it’s one you’ll want to revisit again and again.
Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory
If you watch BoJack Horseman, you’ll want to pick up its creator’s debut book. Bob-Waksberg infuses the love-inspired short stories with his signature dark humor. They’re sometimes strange, sometimes silly, but fully relatable to anyone who’s ever loved or been heartbroken.
Mystery Writers Of America
Mystery fans should check out this anthology, edited by bestselling author Anne Perry, that presents riveting new tales centered on unlikely mystery duos, from pairs who solve crimes to those who commit them. With 19 short stories from some of the genre’s biggest names, including Joe R. Lansdale, Jacqueline Winspear, and William Kent Krueger, Odd Partners offers a wide variety of writing styles and will keep you guessing as you flip the pages.
All the Names They Used for God
The stories in All the Names They Used for God meditate on faith and science, and where they intersect in today’s world and imagined ones. It’s hard to believe this book is a debut title; Sachdeva’s critically acclaimed collection covers tons of thematic ground and defies genre, deftly dancing between science fiction, horror, magical realism, and realistic plots. It’s an utterly fascinating collection.
You Think It, I'll Say It
You Think It, I’ll Say It delves into the complex dramas behind our most everyday interactions. We’re talking jealousy, betrayal, love, appearances, politics, and gender roles in today’s world. It’s an effortless-feeling collection that uncovers some of our deepest, sometimes darkest emotions—conveyed with a surprisingly empathetic hand. And just when you think you know where a story’s going, Sittenfeld throws in a twist. It’s the kind of book you want to read and discuss with friends, to find out which stories stuck with them (or maybe felt too real) and why.
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
In each of these five poignant stories, a narrator looks back on his life and the ghosts of his past. It’s a rumination about death, love, mistakes, and what it means to grow old. It’s haunting and moving, particularly because The Largesse of the Sea Maiden was the last book that Johnson wrote before his death in 2017. If you haven’t read his work before, this one will surely inspire you to visit his older works.
You may know Ted Chiang from Stories of Your Life and Others, the book that inspired the Oscar-nominated movie Arrival. Exhalation is a captivating collection of stories that highlights his undeniable talent for building worlds and dropping you right in the middle of them. This new release contains nine stories, including a few brand-new tales, and belongs on every science fiction fan’s bookshelf.
There’s no literary format more perfect for summer than the short story collection. One of the challenges of summer reading is that it can feel like you’re always on the go, and with all the interruptions in regular routines, it can sometimes be difficult to commit to or follow along with a book-length story. Short stories, on the other hand, are perfect for periodically picking up, putting down, and picking up again as you make your way through the season—guilt-free.
Here are some of our favorite short story collections to turn to when you have some downtime this summer.
Featured Image: @NAO/Twenty20