Story reviews

Short collection reviews

The Foxes Come at Night

by Cee Nooteboom, translated by Ina Rilke

This latest collection of short stories by Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom is immensely readable and entertaining

Magnificent Bastards

by Rich Hall

...skilfully written, well-structured genuine short stories, full of wit and surprise and – in many cases – wisdom. They just also happen to be very, very funny

Granta issue 113

by ed. John Freeman

The Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists

Palo Alto

by James Franco

...an impressive debut collection from a man with the makings of auteur written all over his impossibly pretty face

Pulse

by Julian Barnes

New collection of short stories from a master, playing with the key difference between people who interact intellectually and people who engage on an emotional level

An Awkward Age

by Anna Starobinets

When An Awkward Age was still in manuscript, it won its then 26-year-old author the Russian National Book Award. Reading Hugh Alpin's excellent translation for Hesperus Press, it's not hard to see why. Weighing in at only six stories over a hundred and fifty-odd pages, this is one of the most stunning debuts to come out of Russia since Victor Pelevin: hip, funny, angry, and dark as hell.

The Dark End of the Street

by ed. Jonathan Santlofer and S J Rozan

A gloomy churchyard harbouring a dark secret, a bored housewife longing to indulge in unfulfilled fantasies, a child with a knack for disturbing premonitions… With crime and sex as its chief themes, this collection of short stories unsurprisingly contains a fair smattering of the usual euphemisms, hackneyed descriptions, and heavy handed prose.

Fame

by Daniel Kehlmann (author) Carol Brown Janeway (translator)

Short story collection from the bad boy of Euro-lit

The Spot

by David Means

Short collection of short short stories with a sense of place, each encompassing a 'spot'

Mechanic's Institute Review issue 7

by Rhiannon Smith (ed.)

Superlative review mixing creative writing students from Birbeck with some of the world's finest

Granta issue 112: Pakistan

by John Freeman (ed.)

A superlative collection of writings from and about the Pakistani Disapora, including Kamila Shamsie, Fatima Bhutto and Mohsin Hamid

Things We Didn't See Coming

by Steven Amsterdam

These apocalyptic stories make an oddly reassuring read. In the face of fire, flood, draught and plague, people remain basically the same they tell us

Echoes

by Laura Dockrill

A ghoulish new collection of reinvented fairy tales from Laura Dockrill

Stories

by ed. Neil Gaiman / Al Sarrantonio

This is a short story collection not short on ideas. It’s one huge book of great, exciting stories which will become a uniting force for readers of all forms of imaginative fiction.

The Madman of Freedom Square

by Hassan Blasim

The Madman of Freedom Square is a collection of 11 confronting short stories by Iraqi-born writer Hassan Blasim, who now resides in Finland.

Granta issue 110

by ed. John Freeman

The Granta Sex issue with its beautiful and funny cover, accompanying yearning films and impressive array of contributors from as far afield as Adam Foulds and Dave Eggers (as well as an online exclusive piece from Booktrust writer-in-residence Evie Wyld) is another instalment in the magazine’s well-stocked rolodex of exciting scribes.

Sum: Stories from the Afterlives

by David Eagleman

This is a powerful, life affirming and boldly funny collection that everyone should experience

The Theory of Light and Matter

by Andrew Porter

Even if you usually wouldn’t consider a collection of stories, you really need to read The Theory of Light and Matter

Collected Stories

by Hanif Kureishi

...effective in displaying why Hanif Kureishi is one of Britain’s most important writers

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

by Maile Meloy

The stories are concise and clear, never wasting words, never flowering up simple impulses

The Word Book

by Mieko Kanai

The stories that comprise The Word Book hold only a fragile grip on reality – and the effect is quietly unsettling

An Elegy for Easterly

by Petina Gappah

In this debut collection of short stories, Petina Gappah dissects the lives of people caught up in situations over which they have no control

Legend of a Suicide

by David Vann

Five short short stories and one longer one about suicide might not be your idea of a relaxing fireside read but by approaching the same event from a number of angles Vann is able to successfully express the manifold effects of such a traumatic event on those left behind.

Too Much Happiness

by Alice Munro

For Alice Munro fans who believed her when she said that she'd given up writing, a gift of quite staggering beauty and insight – a new collection of short stories.

One More Year

by Sana Krasikov

A numbing, almost debilitating melancholia infects the exiled, as Sana Krasikov shows in this haunting debut collection.

The Maples Stories

by John Updike

Written over a period of more than twenty years, John Updike’s stories about Richard and Joan Maple and their family sit handsomely together in this beautiful little volume.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

by Wells Tower

Whoa! Hold on to your hat – Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is an adrenaline-fuelled bareback rodeo ride of a book, peppered with caustic low-lifes, desperate events, seedy carnival men and, er, Vikings.

Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful

by Deborah Kay Davies

I sat down with this extraordinary book one Sunday and read it from cover to cover.

McSweeney's 30

by Dave Eggers (ed.)

For anyone not acquainted with the weird and and crazily wonderful world of Dave Eggers’ McSweeney’s publications, issue 30 might be a good (ie not too zany) place to start.

Country of the Grand

by Gerard Donovan

‘How many people get to hear what their friends think about them?’ Gerard Donovan asked an audience at the 2008 Edinburgh international book festival.

The Pleasant Light of Day

by Philip Ceallaigh

If the title of Philip Ó Ceallaigh’s first book didn’t make you grab it off the shelf, the reviews should have.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

by Daniyal Mueenuddin

In this beautiful and assured collection, Daniyal Mueenuddin works and reworks the eternal themes of life, love and death. His control never wavers – neither does his compassion.

The Atmospheric Railway: New and Selected Stories

by Shena Mackay

This is a wonderfully bittersweet selection of works by one of the modern masters of the short story.

Caravan Thieves

by Gerard Woodward

Gerard Woodward’s memorable first collection of stories gives us his own peculiar fictional world, in which the surreal makes its incursions into everyday lives.

It's Beginning to Hurt

by James Lasdun

There’s something disarmingly low-key about James Lasdun’s writing, a hard-to-define tone that nevertheless draws the reader deep into the specific moment of each story.

Knockemstiff

by Donald Ray Pollock

If books came with sound effects, this debut collection would rattle like a plastic bottle of pills every time you turned a page, such are the many and varied references to experience-enhancing or -deadening pharmaceuticals.

Picador Shots 2008

by Various

Eight more pocket-sized Picador Shots are now available for your delight.

The Dream Lover

by William Boyd

‘Fiction, for me, is all about liberating my imagination,’ writes William Boyd in his introduction to The Dream Lover, ‘and that liberation seems to function particularly appealingly in the short-story form.’

Lust, Caution

by Eileen Chang

Expanding their Modern Classics series, Penguin has now published two collections of novellas and short stories by the celebrated Chinese writer Eileen Chang, containing several perfectly-formed examples of her writing about 30s and 40s Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Dark Roots

by Cate Kennedy

Kennedy’s sparkling debut collection is characterised by the sheer confidence of her writing and her knack of actually being able to tell a good tale.

No One Belongs Here More Than You

by Miranda July

Miranda July’s debut collection is an engaging mix of the heartfelt and self-aware, with some very funny moments and some sharp observations.

Dark Paradise

by Rosa Liksom (translated from the Finnish by David McDuff)

Sophie Lewis is shocked, and then awed, by a collection of grim, unpredictable stories.

The Loudest Sound and Nothing

by Clare Wigfall

Peter Hobbs, author of I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train, is impressed by a "masterful debut collection".

The Separate Heart and Other Stories

by Simon Robson

Robson’s stories offer up the notion that separateness exists between adults, and between children and the adult world, no matter how well one may seem to know the other. They are also very, very English.

St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

by Karen Russell

Karen Russell’s debut collection of stories is an exuberant and imaginative journey into places that seem fantastic, yet could be true.

Last Night: Stories

by James Salter

In some ways the ten disturbing, compelling stories in Last Night are old-fashioned; men are manly, women are beautiful, and each one comes with a killer twist. Yet the stories’ central themes – betrayal and the way it almost carelessly destroys the golden lives of the seemingly contented – are universal and timeless.

Sunstroke

by Tessa Hadley

This is a deftly assembled collection of short stories about the everyday flow of human lives, and unexpected moments that can shift those lives off (or back on) course.

The Turning

by Tim Winton

Parched, arid and dusty lives, mirrored in the unremittingly harsh landscape of Australia, have become the stock-in-trade of Tim Winton.

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (including In Persuasion Nation)

by George Saunders

The skewed world of George Saunders is a strangely wonderful place, an alternative but frighteningly feasible universe in which advertising and wonky syntax have smothered the life out of normal discourse and free will.

How to Breathe Underwater

by Julie Orringer

'Outstanding'; 'unbelievably good'; 'pitch perfect'; 'clear, cool and enticing'; 'subtle and multi-layered': these are just some of the justified reactions to Julie Orringer's first collection of short stories.

People I Wanted To Be

by Gina Ochsner

Ochsner's stories of love, loss, death and redemption were inspired by her travels around Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Secret Goldfish

by David Means

It is a truism that the best modern short stories are written by Americans (and you can take that to mean the United States or North America – or you can disagree completely).

Gallatin Canyon

by Thomas McGuane

Thomas McGuane is a very funny writer, but the almost desperate humour in his stories is leavened by a sense of deep loneliness.

Pieces for the Left Hand

by J Robert Lennon

After the frenzied intensity of his last book (Mailman), Lennon presents us with one hundred very short, beautifully crafted vignettes that aptly capture the oddness of everyday life.

Dead Girls

by Nancy Lee

Longer isn't necessarily better, as this debut collection of short stories vividly demonstrates.

Black Juice

by Margo Lanagan

Lanagan's spare sentences and arresting metaphors conjure up tales of worlds similar but subtly different to our own, often set in unspecified pasts and futures.

The Nimrod Flip-Out

by Etgar Keret

The deceptive simplicity of these often funny and oddly moving short – in some cases very short – stories reveals Keret to be a lively wit and an exuberant satirist.

Little Infamies

by Panos Karnezis

These interlinked short stories about life in an unnamed rural Greek village are beautifully written with a light and almost magical touch that suits both the comic and the tragic themes of the book.

I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train

by Peter Hobbs

Hobbs's first book, the novel The Short Day Dying, was well received by critics; his second, this collection of short stories, deserves equal praise for the confidence of its writing and the range of its subject matter.

The Hill Road

by Patrick O'Keeffe

Bitter sadness, violence and regret bubble to the surface of rural Ireland in this prize-winning volume of novellas set in the fictional townland of Kilroan.

The Dead Fish Museum

by Charles D'Ambrosio

It is a bizarre and frankly baffling fact that this mind-blowing collection of stories has not found a publisher in the UK.

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