Short stories are generally considered to be short enough to be read in one sitting. They are longer than 1,000 words, or else they are considered ‘flash fiction’, but shorter than 10,000 words. They encompass all that is involved in your regular novel- from exposition to resolution- carried through in one swift story and far less complex than a full fiction novel.
The short story dates back to the traditional form of oral storytelling which, for obvious reasons, could not take hours to resolve. Long tales (such as Homer’s Odyssey) would be recited in sections- often with rhyme and rhythm to aid remembering each verse. Often separate short tales would be told but would be linked in some way (such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales).
2017 has seen this traditional form flourish still, and remain ever more popular. Perhaps modern life calls for shorter, snappier tales to fit in with our busy lives?
“In An Animal Called Mist, a book of six short stories, the Galician author Ledicia Costas (Winner of the 2015 Spanish National Book Award) walks the tightrope between fiction and reality in a superb and sometimes shocking narrative. She bases herself on real events in and after the Second World War – the Siege of Leningrad, the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the interrogation of Italian partisans by the Banda Koch, the sexual exploitation of women internees in Nazi concentration camps, the trials of high-ranking Nazi officials – and then recreates them, changing and inventing biographical details, giving free rein to her writer’s imagination in order to produce a sequence of stories that look not so much at historical fact as at the essence of barbarism, the capacity of the human mind to conceive ways of torturing and tormenting fellow human beings.”
“Don’t Wait to Be Called is a collection of short stories that span the distance from Eritrea and Ethiopia, whose refugee populations author Jacob Weber worked with in 2013 and 2014, all the way to Rustbelt towns of Ohio, where Weber grew up in the shadow of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. These stories range from migrants fleeing for their lives and hanging on to what is left from the dangerous journey to “bros” lifting weights together who just want to get ripped. Weber also covers the 2015 Baltimore Riots through the eyes of a student (Weber’s wife was a Baltimore teacher at the time), a dying mathematician’s son who tries to master high school math before his father dies, and a single mother just trying to hold it together on a Sunday at the park. Weber twice hits on themes of surveillance, once in a very short story told through the eyes of an eavesdropping translator (Weber himself is a translator for a living), and again through a haunting story of a man who built facilities for the National Security Agency and now wants to spend his retirement in a bath house he built. But the heart of the collection are the four stories of “Habesha” immigrants–those who have come from Ethiopia and Eritrea to the United States to become a new kind of American–“American as Berbere,” as one story has it.”
“In this striking debut, of vivid characters and piercing situations, nothing is too insignificant for Pursell’s imagination–a wren on a branch, a hole in a sock, ginger tea–and nothing too dangerous–a girl hit by a stone, a mother and daughter struggling, a lip plump with blood. Intense insights are captured in superb concentrations of prose, with lyricism and flashes of brilliant detail applied to the small wonders of the world. In a matter of a few words, a few lines resonant as in the way of music, Pursell transports us. This dazzling collection of narratives, with its precise beauty and unsparing wisdom, is a fiercely sacred book, immense in its gifts, with a long, shimmering after-effect.”
“It is just after nine o’clock in the morning. Gidza will die in exactly forty-three minutes and thirteen seconds.”
“‘Rotten Row’ is the Criminal Division of Harare, and the courts and the unfortunates who pass through them are the subjects of this mesmerising collection of stories. In these portraits of lives aching for meaning and redemption, Petina Gappah crosses the barriers of class, race, gender and sexual politics in contemporary Zimbabwe, to explore the causes and effects of crime and the nature of justice.”
“Passion. Peril. Imposture. Shipwreck. Alchemy. Transformation. This is the stuff of Mary Shelley’s richly Romantic stories. Set against varying backdrops of medieval chivalry, the wars and revolutions of her age, and grandiose scenes of nature, her tales mark a high point in the Gothic storytelling art. Long out of print, these stories are made available once again in a meticulously annotated and corrected softcover edition.”
“‘Rain’ explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.
In ‘Loaded’ a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it…
‘Snapshot, 1988’ tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories…
And in ‘Aloft’ a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.”
Out in October (UK) /November (US) 2017:
“Profound, lyrical, shocking, wise: the short story is capable of almost anything. This collection of 100 of the finest stories ever written ranges from the essential to the unexpected, the traditional to the surreal. Wide in scope, both beautiful and vast, this is the perfect companion for any fiction lover.
Here are childhood favourites and neglected masters, twenty-first century wits and national treasures, Man Booker Prize winners and Nobel Laureates.
Featuring an all-star cast of authors, including Kate Atkinson, Julian Barnes, Angela Carter, Anton Chekhov, Richmal Crompton, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Penelope Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Ian McEwan, Alice Munro, V.S. Pritchett, Thomas Pynchon, Muriel Spark and Colm Tóibín, THAT GLIMPSE OF TRUTH is the biggest, most handsome collection of short fiction in print today.”
The novel is a dual-narrative story which follows an asylum-seeker (Little Bee) from Nigeria and a British magazine editor, who meet during the oil conflict in the Niger Delta, then re-unite in England many years later. The Other Hand humanises asylum-seekers in the UK and the struggles they go through. Cleave examines the asylum system in Britain, and how the country treats refugees. He also touches upon the very relevant subjects of British colonialism and globalisation.
Amazon Studios plan to adapt this passionate and humane book, and Hollywood star Julia Roberts has also jumped at the chance to get involved.
The Wonder actor will play the character Sarah O’ Rourke, the magazine editor who meets Little Bee during the oil conflict in the Niger Delta. She is also producing the project with Red Om Films.
Don’t let the name of the genre put you off though- young adult is a mere label and does not mean we fully grown and ‘mature’ (hahahah) crowd cannot read them too.
Check out the list below- something may grab your fancy.
The hall of fame for sci-fi and fantasy has been going since 1996 and Lee will be the first comic book writer to be included. Both he and Rowling have made a significant impact on the world of pop culture this past decade, with a stream of books and movies and an ever-expanding universe for both Marvel and the Potter fandom.
As many good writers know one key to great writing is a lot of reading- and Gaiman is no different. His love for writing goes hand-in-hand with reading, so the BBC asked for his favourite science fiction novels.
These are the books he decided upon…
The 16 original books were read and discussed by the panel of judges- Sarah Sands, Katy Brand, Anita Anand, Catherine Mayer, and Imogen Stubbs- and whittled down to a final fantastic 6. After much deliberation those 6 were discussed and debated until one winner was decided upon.
Congratulations to the winner- Kamila Shamsie with Home Fire.
Fingers crossed something emerges in the future…
Several famed authors have been revealing titles which changed their lives and impacted them as a writer. Dolly Alderton, author of Everything I Know About Love, opted for The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks. “It taught me so much about men and women – about love and relationship dynamics and the myths we’re fed about romance,” she said. Read More