Quick Reads: The Best Short Story Collections 2019

Short Stories
Short Stories
Magical realism, human suffering, absurd situations, and the works of a forgotten master. Keep your eyes open for these upcoming collections.By Jessica Dukes

A short story is a well-told story: efficient, impressive, and self-contained, like a rare gem. Only one person, Alice Munro, has won a Nobel Prize in Literature solely for writing short stories, a significant nod to the fact that it takes great talent to create a fictional world in 4,000 words or less. And yet, the form has never been more popular. Many novelists have at least one short story collection under their belts, while readers show no signs of losing their appetite for them. These are the short story collections we can’t wait to read this year.

We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes

We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes (July 23)

The characters in Maizes’ debut collection of stories have all decided to be true to themselves, even when the cost is steep. One refuses to walk down the aisle to her waiting groom. Another wallows in guilt over the death of her dogs, even as her marriage self-destructs. These and nine other stories have characters who struggle with the best and worst impulses that humanity can muster.

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Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales by Stephen King, Bev Vincent (June 4)

Did you know that Stephen King, the master of horror, has a fear of flying? That’s how we know that Flight or Fright’s air-travel stories are going to be terrifying. King, along with Bev Vincent, hand-picked the tales which include new works by King and his son, Joe Hill, as well as classics by Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Richard Matheson, and more. Might we suggest you read this one after landing at your destination?

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell (May 14)

Orange World and Other Stories is Russell’s third collection of short stories. It’s a form she’s known for—even her debut novel Swamplandia! is based on an earlier short story titled “Ava Wrestles the Alligator.” Orange World is a frolic into the world of a reanimated bog child, a mother’s deal with the devil, a tourist possessed by a spiritual tree, and more magically real stories.

Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction by Chuck Klosterman (July 16)

Klosterman is celebrated for his sideways observations of what people would do in strange, yet plausible situations, both in his fiction and his essays. In Raised in Captivity, his characters find wild animals in airplane bathrooms, undergo experimental medical procedures, and grapple with the morality of hiring a hit man. Klosterman’s unleashed imagination is always a joy to read.

Small Kingdoms and Other Stories by Charlaine Harris (May 31)

Anne DeWitt and Holt Halsey used to have top-secret jobs, but they’ve left it all behind to become Principal DeWitt and Coach Halsey at Travis High School in North Carolina. Unfortunately, their illicit past catches up with them in these connected short stories, each building on a theme: protect Travis High at all costs.

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (June 11)

This collection is the fiction debut of Bob-Waksberg, the creator of the TV show BoJack Horseman. Like the show, the stories here are often wacky and strange…and that makes sense because they are all, in their own way, love stories. Uncomfortable wedding plans, lonely theme park employees, unrequited love among commuters—Bob-Waksberg handles them all with a dark but human touch.

The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott (August 20)

The stories (and one novella) in The World Doesn’t Require You all take place in fictional Cross River, Maryland, a town founded by leaders of a popular slave revolt. History is alive here, but it expresses itself in unexpected ways. Fellow citizens include a literal child of God and a robot devoted to its Master. There’s a rivalry with a neighboring town that just won’t die. Humor and allegiance bind the townspeople, creating a world readers won’t want to leave.

Maggie Brown & Others by Peter Orner (July 2)

Orner captures the brief and quiet moments that define our humanity in the collection of short-short stories. A young girl watches a drowning deer. A dying poet considers his storied life. Orner’s characters span the globe, but they all wrestle with the burden of memory and what it means to be alive.

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat (August 27)

It has been 23 years since Danticat’s first collection of short stories, Krik? Krak!, was released and nominated for a National Book Award. To say that we’re excited for Everything Inside is an understatement. Here, Danticat’s stories are set in her native Haiti, nearby Miami, and fictional islands where culture clash provides the setting. In eight stories, characters fight for their lives, fall in love, or die, and it’s all captured by Danticat’s acute sense for emotional detail.

Kitchen Curse by Eka Kurniawan (October 1)

Kurniawan has been called “the Southeast Asian Gabriel Garcia Marquez” and is the first Indonesian writer nominated for a Man Booker Prize. Kitchen Curse is his first collection of short stories to be translated into English, a much-anticipated introduction for millions of readers. Kurniawan starts with dreamlike fables, breaks them, and reassembles them into short stories that connect with modern readers.

Where the Light Falls by Nancy Hale, edited by Lauren Groff (October 1)

Nancy Hale (1908-1988) was a celebrated fiction writer in her day, with many of her greatest works published in The New Yorker from the 1930s to the 1960s. Storytelling ran in Hale’s family—her father was a Unitarian preacher, her great aunt was Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Hale surprised no one when she became the first female news reporter for The New York Times. Thanks to Lauren Groff (Florida, Fates and Furies), Hale is being introduced to a new generation of readers and a towering talent is returned to the spotlight. Treat yourself to this collection of Hale’s best short stories about ordinary women coping with the strains of their demanding lives.

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