Elephants in our Bedroom – Michael Czyzniejewski
A heady collection. Czyzniejewski’s world is much like the one we live in, just a little skewed from reality. He nails how it feels to be a man in the 21st Century, then promptly shows he can produce female characters of equal depth, all while crafting stories that are laugh out loud funny one minute and deeply moving the next. The opener Wind is as perfect a slice of short fiction as I have ever read and the stories that follow don’t disappoint. Read Wind in the excerpt on the author’s website.
Break It Down – Lydia Davis
A collection of spare, autobiographical short fiction. Brilliant in places. Contains at least two stories that brought me to tears. Inspiring writing.
The Method and other stories – Tom Vowler
Tom Vowler’s Scott Prize winning debut collection includes the excellent ‘Busy. Come. Wait.’ which some may remember made the top fifteen stories of my Short Story Challenge. The Method and Other Stories contains a diverse selection of stories touching on themes of love, loss, grief, ambition and obsession and contains many, many great examples of the short form. From the plausibly near future spec-fic of ‘Offline,’ through the devastating yet understated effects of ‘There Are New Birthdays Now,’ to the razor sharp voice of ‘Team Build,’ this a collection that surprises and entertains at every turn. Deserves your attention.
An Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies is concerned with Asian immigrant experience in the US and UK, but its brilliance lies in how universal it makes the subject. The collection’s opening story A Temporary Matter is a wholly complete, wholly satisfying, wholly heartbreaking piece of fiction that demands to be read and you can read it free here. The rest of the collection shines with memorable characters and stories. Writing this good is what we aim at, all too often falling short.
To The World Of Men, Welcome – Nuala Ní Chonchúir
To The World of Men, Welcome corals a host of narrative styles and perspectives that never fail to convince, while, remarkably, each story builds on the one before to build a sense of cohesion in the midst of its variety. The thematic links that pervade the stories create a sense of wholeness that only really becomes clear on reading the final page. It is rare to come across a collection that impresses from first page to last as this one does.
You can read my full review of To The World Of Men Welcome here.
What was your favourite short fiction collection of 2011?
5 Responses to Top Reads of 2011 – Short Story Collections
So – I jumped the gun yesterday, recommending the Lahiri.
I’ve had less time for short stories this year, but the Nuala Ní Chonchúir is on my to-be-read shelf. Will push it to the top of the pile!
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did Jo. Perfect to dip in an out of as we gear up for the writing portion of this first year of the MA.
I love Lydia Davis. Haven’t heard of anyone else on this list, but I will be sure to add them to my “to-read” pile because they sound wonderful.
I have the rest of Lydia Davis’s collected stories to work my way through. As you say, she’s great. Glad you like the sound of the other recommendations. Hope you enjoy them.
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