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Short story collections of 2009

James Lasdun at the Guardian has a wonderful piece on the short story as an art form and reviews some of the best collections of 2009:

“…it raises the question of whether there is any special quality, aside from length, that distinguishes the short story from other literary forms, and if so to what extent these particular writers avail themselves of it. I think there’s at least a unique potentiality in the short story, and that it has to do with, among other things, omission and a quality of internal resonance between the parts that, if handled well, can escalate the emotional power of the whole”

He definitely gave me good reason to add five more books to my must-read books.

One more year by Sana Krasikov

“…What makes the collection so good is partly the fineness of detail – emotional as well as social and sensory. Story after story plays with the same set of variables, but always in different, vividly imagined situations, and always with unpredictable outcomes.”
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In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

Loosely connected around the family of an elderly landowner, KK Harouni, the stories tell of servants and poor relations navigating the whims of their patrons with a mixture of mercantile calculation and surprising love.The harsh realities facing powerless, impoverished women are especially well handled.
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The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

…a collection of 15 stories that shuttle between Nigeria and the US. Once again the strains and betrayals involved in fleeing one culture for another figure prominently, with the uprooted heroines caught between the devil of a dysfunctional homeland and the deep blue sea of suburban America.Adichie has a flair for drama, particularly where violence is involved.
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Petina Gappah's An Elegy for Easterly

“..Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer currently living in Switzerland. Aids, corruption, lethally callous attitudes to women and surreal levels of inflation (“we handed over a million dollars each to our driver” is a typical line) form the outward coordinates [of this collection]…All of these pieces depend on swiftness and lightness for their effect; flaring up into momentary life and then fading out before they acquire any burdensome solemnity, and this, too, seems true to the essential nature of the form.”
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Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

The least favorite among the five, Lasdun still says “…what turns it from a good story into a great one is the leopard, and the connection Tower sets up between this unlikely creature and the boy whose murderous feelings it comes to embody. That he does this via the almost delinquently playful motif of spottedness, risking the seriousness of the story’s emotion, but getting away with it, and thereby adding a level of pure joy to the performance, suggests that he is a natural-born short story writer.
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Posted in Books on April 4, 2009

One Response

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  1. Divya says

    Awesome. I am gonna add the books on Nigeria and Zimbabwe to my list!

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