A new short story by Americanah author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, titled Olikoye, surfaced on the platform Medium on Monday after being originally published in the story collection The Art of Saving a Life, commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to spotlight the value of vaccines. The quick but poignant read is narrated by a woman reflecting on the many lives lost to disease—and those saved by modern medicine—in Lagos, Nigeria, as she gives birth to her first child.
Tag: Short Stories (1-10 of 25)
On one hand, you have novels. On the other, you have short stories. But is the split that clear-cut? If the world of books has taught us anything lately, it’s that widely held boundaries—between self-publishing and the establishment, cliché and rejuvenation, even one genre and the next—have become blurred.
Granted, most of those things have overlapped to some degree in the past. Case in point: novels and short-story collections. In September, Margaret Atwood—celebrated author of The Handmaid’s Tale and the MaddAddamn Trilogy (the latter of which is being adapted by director Darren Aronofsky for HBO)—saw the release of her latest short-story collection, Stone Mattress. It comprises nine stories that embody the quirky yet profound tone Atwood has been mastering for decades, full of fantastic situations grounded in poignancy, humor, and the entanglements of desire.
What’s especially interesting about Stone Mattress, though, is the book’s first three stories: “Alphinland,” “Revenant,” and “Dark Lady.” While listed on the table of contents as individual tales, the trio connects to form a single, if short, novel of roughly 100 pages. In those pages, a group of friends try to navigate the transgressions and regrets of their collective past. The linked tales also spotlight fictional works of literature that exist within the universe Atwood has created. Alphinland is the name of a spectacularly popular fantasy novel series written by one of the characters, C. W. Starr (a cheeky spoof of J. K. Rowling); the Dark Lady suite is a series of romantic poems written by Starr’s late husband, Gavin Putnam. The device is playfully meta, but it also underscores how storytelling often can’t—and often shouldn’t—be neatly tied up in discreet little parcels. READ FULL STORY
Today the BBC announced an all-female author shortlist for its National Short Story Award. The nominees are Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley, The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Francesca Rhydderch, Kilifi Creek by Lionel Shriver, Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets by Zadie Smith and The American Lover by Rose Tremain.
The five stories “tackle pivotal moments in a woman’s life from girlhood to middle age, including sex and love, death and disintegration,” the BBC reports. All the authors have established a body of critically acclaimed or award-winning work—Shriver and Tremain have been nominated for the award before— except for Welsh newcomer Francesca Rhydderch, who made her debut this year with The Rice Paper Diaries. This is the third all-female list in the past nine years.
“The short story form has a unique ability to capture a single defining moment,” says Chair of Judges Alan Yentob. “It invites us to dive headfirst into another world… In their very different ways these five stories do just that.” The winner and runner-up will be honored on Sept. 30 at BBC’s Radio Theatre, and the ceremony will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
Now that the New Yorker has opened its paywalled gates for every article since 2007 for the next three months, there’s never been a better time to read through its legendary archive of short stories. Since the magazine’s inception, it’s published work from some of the last century’s most important writers, including John Updike (pictured above), Vladimir Nabokov, J.D. Salinger, and Alice Munro. Many of the stories are behind a paywall, but check them out if you have a subscription. Here are EW’s picks for the New Yorker‘s best stories:
How very high-low. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was in Chipotle one day and he was quite miffed that he had nothing to read while he munched on his burrito. “I really just wanted to die with frustration,” he told Vanity Fair.
The author was so riled that he emailed the Chipotle C.E.O. Steve Ells directly: “I bet a s—load of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn’t have that negative experience, they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text…Wouldn’t it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on it? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.”
Ells knew a good thing when he saw it, so he gave Foer the green light to select writers and edit their stories for Chipotle’s cups. Foer composed a short called “Two Minute Personality Test” and then asked Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader and others to contribute pieces. “I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles,” he said. “I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.” READ FULL STORY
Mavis Gallant, the Montreal-born writer who carved out an international reputation as a master short-story author while living in Paris for decades, died Tuesday at age 91, her publisher said.
The bilingual Quebecois started out as a journalist and went on to publish well over 100 short stories in her lauded career, many of them in The New Yorker magazine and in collections such as The Other Paris, Across the Bridge, and In Transit.
Although she lived abroad, Gallant received several high-profile honors in Canada, including a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Governor General’s Literary Award for her story collection, Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories.
Random House in Canada confirmed the death, saying she died in her Paris apartment Tuesday morning.
Although at least 120 of her pieces appeared in The New Yorker, her following in the United States remained small. Many of her books remain out of print, short stories tend not to be best sellers and as a Canadian living in Paris she often wrote about foreign cultures. READ FULL STORY
Although she might dread forced alone time with Jonathan Franzen more than ghosts or witches, author Jennifer Weiner taps into some more universal fears with her latest Halloween-themed eShort Story Disconnected (available today on on Amazon.com, iBooks, B&N.com, booksamillion.com, Bookish, and IndieBound). The story centers on Shannon Will (who will also appear in Weiner’s upcoming novel All Fall Down), a recovering drug abuser who begins getting mysterious — and extremely creepy — text messages once she leaves rehab.
Disconnected follows in the tradition of Weiner’s previous haunting eShorts like A Memoir of Grief and Recalculating.
Woody Allen. George Saunders. B.J. Novak?
That’s the vibe the ex-Office multihyphenate is going for in his first short story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories — the cover of which you’ll see for the first time above. “It’s a really great form — fiction with a sense of humor,” Novak tells EW. “It’s what I love to read, and it’s what I wanted to write.”
The book contains 60 stories, some short… and some shorter. “I didn’t want to write in the traditional mold where you’d be constrained by anything,” Novak explains, noting that a few of his pieces are mere lines long –à la his pal Simon Rich, another writer Novak admires. “They’re all based around some idea played out to its limit, and no further,” he continues. “I think a lot of fiction tries to stretch — I was happy to go in new directions, but not if the story didn’t call for it.”
Novak has been testing some of those new directions in a series of live literary readings, an integral facet of his editing process. As he puts it, “A live audience really keeps you humble, and makes you desperate to entertain and keep their attention. I really wanted to be honest with myself; I didn’t want to be pretentious. I wanted to make sure these stories were captivating people.”
He’ll be testing those waters once again at New York Comic Con Friday. There, Novak will read some of his new material and sit for a conversation with Time Magazine’s Lev Grossman before signing a sampler of stories produced exclusively for the event. (The panel is at 1:30 p.m.; the signing begins at 3 p.m.) The sampler will include tales like “The Impatient Billionaire and the Mirror for Earth,” a piece about a wealthy but unfulfilled man that neatly summarizes the collection’s main motif: “Many or most of the stories are about someone who is doing fine, but becomes obsessed with the one thing that will make them complete,” Novak says. “And that was sort of an inadvertent theme I stumbled on as I wrote the book.”
One More Thing hits shelves Feb. 4.
Do shiny new covers make you want to re-read old favorites? I’m not ashamed to admit that re-issues are one publishing marketing ploy that I’m entirely susceptible to, especially when they’re done with originality and care. Vintage Books recently released Breakfast at Tiffany’s and other Truman Capote classics as e-books, but these new editions, designed by Megan Wilson, might rekindle your loyalty to paperback. Like Capote himself, the updated covers (coming this July) are stylish and daring with an undertone of darkness. Click through to see the seven re-issued covers, and tell us your favorite in the comments. Mine is Answered Prayers.
NEXT: The Grass Harp
Much-loved Israeli author Etgar Keret is a master of the very short story. In his latest collection Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, Keret delivers his signature blend of irony and pathos in portions typically digestible in 10-15 minutes. These “delicate wisps of narrative,” as EW’s Keith Staskiewicz called them, lend themselves well to a multi-track audio album of sorts, and all kinds of celebrities and A-list authors have offered their voices to the project. Here are just some of the notable individuals who will narrate stories for the audiobook, to be released April 24: Ira Glass, Josh Radnor, Jonathan Safran Foer, Willem Dafoe, Josh Charles, Neal Stephenson, George Saunders, Ben Foster, Mathieu Amalric, Aimee Bender, Miranda July, Ben Marcus, John Sayles, Gary Shteyngart, Stella Schnabel, Nathan Englander, Michael Chabon.
EW has obtained an exclusive clip of Hunger Games and Julie & Julia star Stanley Tucci reading Keret’s story “Creative Writing” in his distinctively warm, wry voice. Have a listen below! READ FULL STORY
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