Short stories

An insight into the American Dream: Table for Two, by Amor Towles, reviewed

22 June 2024 9:00 am

Recent short stories and a novella all feature protagonists in pursuit of an ambition that puts them in varying degrees of peril

The wry humour of Franz Kafka

1 June 2024 9:00 am

A masterly new translation of his Diaries reminds us that Kafka wasn’t solely the prophet of a century of dehumanisation

Exploring the glorious literary heritage of Bengal

11 May 2024 9:00 am

Bengalis are renowned for their love of discussion and argument, and a new collection of short stories reflects this passion for cultured conversation

Grotesque vignettes: The Body in the Mobile Library and Other Stories, by Peter Bradshaw, reviewed

20 April 2024 9:00 am

Relishing the outrageous and improbable, Bradshaw treats us to stories that often rely more on twist than plot

Caught in a Venus flytrap: Red Pyramid, by Vladimir Sorokin, reviewed

30 March 2024 9:00 am

Sorokin’s satirical stories are not for the fainthearted, but there are few more dedicated critics of Russia's infinite bureaucracy writing fiction today

The skull beneath the skin: Ghost Pains, by Jessi Jezewska Stevens, reviewed

9 March 2024 9:00 am

Pain lurks below the surface of these sardonic short stories. Happiness is fleeting, and ‘we carry death within us like a stone within a fruit’, one narrator observes

Everyday life in the Eternal City: Roman Stories, by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed

14 October 2023 9:00 am

Each story circles around events both big and small, such as lunch at a simple trattoria, a birthday party, a summer holiday or the funeral of a friend

Magic tricks

19 August 2023 9:00 am

Five short stories with male narrators – including a seahorse and a vampire – revolve around masculinity’s contradictory demands and the wish to belong

Tales of the Midwest: The Collected Works of Jo Ann Beard, reviewed

12 August 2023 9:00 am

Violence and death are balanced by hard-won, transcendent joy in Beard’s remarkable stories that merge fiction and memoir

Adventures in Greeneland

12 August 2023 9:00 am

In skilfully told stories involving luck and changes of fortune, Osborne suggests that it’s not the hand you’re dealt that matters, but how you play it

Bizarre miniatures

5 August 2023 9:00 am

With flying narrators and women whose hair drags on the floor, there’s something of Leonora Carrington’s weird visions about Williams’s short stories

Private obsessions

22 July 2023 9:00 am

A world of private fetishes, obsessions, childhood memories and literary passions is dazzlingly revealed in 13 short stories

A born storyteller

15 July 2023 9:00 am

Instead of swashbuckling, we get the Parisian art world, trout-fishing, unhappy couples and surrogate parenting – though the 20 stories for children are full of adventure

The inner world of others

15 July 2023 9:00 am

As ever in her short stories, Hadley uses the smallest details – of dress, food and decor – to masterfully convey class, character and the inner world of others

What have we been missing?

1 July 2023 9:00 am

Ge’s short stories set in China are her most adventurous, ranging from politics in the time of Confucius to sex in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

An eye for the absurd

13 May 2023 9:00 am

Come for the satire, stay for the one-liners, and take succour from the hope Walter finds in a world where everyone needs an angel from time to time

Helpless human puppets: Liberation Day, by George Saunders, reviewed

29 October 2022 9:00 am

George Saunders’s handbook published last year, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, gave masterclasses on seven short stories…

The deathly malaise that’s crippling Russia

8 October 2022 9:00 am

Now is a difficult time to empathise with Russians – which is why we need Maxim Osipov. We need him…

Women behaving badly: Ghost Lover, by Lisa Taddeo, reviewed

11 June 2022 9:00 am

Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women established her as a narrator of female desire in all its complexity. Her study of three…

Lonely voices: Dance Move, by Wendy Erskine, reviewed

12 February 2022 9:00 am

‘The drawer beside Roberta’s bed contained remnants of other people’s fun’: so begins ‘Mathematics’, one of 11 stories in this…

Confused lives: It’s Getting Dark, by Peter Stamm, reviewed

22 January 2022 9:00 am

The Swiss writer Peter Stamm’s inscrutable, alienated outsiders make bizarre choices to escape stifling mundanity. Their discontent suggests malaise, something…

Culture clash: Things We Don’t Tell the People We Love, by Huma Qureshi, reviewed

11 December 2021 9:00 am

Apart from what the title tells us, these stories are about a fundamental difference in cultures. Huma Qureshi writes like…

There is nothing cosy about Penelope Lively

4 December 2021 9:00 am

At one time, Penelope Lively was routinely shortchanged by critics. Her protagonists are often middle-class professionals — historians, archeologists, scriptwriters…

Orcadian cadences: celebrating the reclusive poet George Mackay Brown

5 June 2021 9:00 am

Maggie Fergusson on the reclusive poet George Mackay Brown

Labyrinthine tales: We All Hear Stories in the Dark, by Robert Shearman, reviewed

19 December 2020 9:00 am

When the estimable Andy Miller, the host of the Backlisted podcast, recommended a new collection of short stories on Twitter,…