Each year since 1915, a volume of Best American Short Stories has been published, offering a selection of the finest short fiction that has appeared in magazines and journals throughout the year. To celebrate the centenary, editors Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor have compiled a best of the best collection, 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.
Shirley Jackson, who died 50 years ago this month at the much too early age of 48, left behind a solid literary opus anchored in two indelible works: the iconic short story “The Lottery” and the classy ghost story novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Let Me Tell You collects 29 stories, including 21 that have never before been published, as well as many essays and humor pieces.
There is a strong tradition of Irish writers—William Trevor, Edna O’Brien and Colm Tóibín come immediately to mind—who can turn the everyday details of an ordinary life into art. Add to these ranks Mary Costello, whose deceptively slender first novel, Academy Street, takes in the full measure of one woman’s quietly tragic life in fewer than 200 pages.
Colm Tóibín’s new novel, Nora Webster, never strays from the quiet, deceptive simplicity of its storytelling, and yet this persuasive portrait of a compelling woman blossoms into something greater than the sum of its parts. Set in a small town in County Wexford, Ireland, in the early 1970s, it is the story of a mother navigating the first, tentative days and months of a premature widowhood.
Edward St. Aubyn’s Lost for Words is a breezy, yet biting satirical novel about the internecine intrigue that unfolds behind the scenes of a major book award that is clearly a thinly disguised version of the Booker Prize. St. Aubyn, whose own novel, Mother’s Milk, was shortlisted for that honor, writes in the great pithy British tradition of David Lodge and Muriel Spark, infusing a deceptively lighthearted surface wit with more trenchant intent.
Not unlike Frankenstein, that other Gothic masterwork of the 19th century, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde—originally published in 1886—is a surprisingly slight book whose enduring impact has far outstripped its original ambitions. At barely a hundred pages, it is a quickly read novella, as noteworthy for what is left unsaid as for what is portrayed. This classic good vs. evil fable has provided the template and inspiration for an array of adaptations and interpretations over the last century and a quarter. The latest is Hyde, Daniel Levine’s ambitious and imaginative literary debut.
A Kafkaesque premise rests at the center of Jesse Ball’s intriguing fourth novel, Silence Once Begun. Oda Sotatsu, a 29-year-old man, is arrested in Osaka for his involvement in the disappearance of eight elderly people. The police have a signed confession from Oda, and he refuses to speak in his own defense. Indeed, he refuses to speak at all. But, as readers, we know that Oda did not commit the crime: He has signed the confession having lost a wager made with another man, Sato Kakuzo, and the man’s girlfriend, Jito Joo. Why has Oda admitted to something he didn’t do, and why is he willing to die for it?
The gentle, folktale-like narrative style of Ishmael Beah’s compelling debut novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, belies the endemic injustice and brutality in the story it tells. The Sierra Leone-born Beah, now living in the U.S., first shared his country’s dark reality with A Long Way Gone, a memoir of his violent experiences as a child soldier during its harrowing civil war. For his...
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for the bibliophiles on your list, here’s a collection of notable new releases that includes books about books, artwork made from books, a richly illustrated classic and more. Because books really do make the best gifts!The singular mind of Umberto Eco takes readers on a tour of fabled places in literature and folklore in The Book...
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, whom Gabriel García Márquez has called “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Such blanket assessments are subjective, of course, and impossible to support, but there is no denying that Neruda is that rare modern poet whose work achieved a global reach—nearly...