Whether you have a chaotic social calendar this summer or just a chaotic mind (thanks 'ever-evolving' pandemic), we reckon short stories are the ideal reading material for these times. Here are three of our favourite collections from 2021 in the one pack.
Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
A debut story collection about Cambodian-American life - immersive, comic and unsparing - by an indisputable talent. A Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club pick.
A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle's snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a 'safe space' app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.
With nuanced emotional precision, gritty humour and compassionate insight into the intimacy of queer and immigrant communities, the stories in Afterparties deliver an explosive introduction to the work of Anthony Veasna So.
Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz
One of the hottest US debuts of 2021, Milk Blood Heat is a breakout collection of stories about race, sex, love, death, and the intimate wonders and violences of the female body.
'Glorious, ecstatic, devastating... A gorgeous debut from a wickedly talented new author' - Lauren Groff
A thirteen-year-old girl watches her white best friend totter along the edge of a building roof; a woman who lost her child in its first trimester finds empathy and horror in the waters of a city aquarium; a mother protects her teen daughter from a predatory love interest by taking revenge over a very French supper; and two estranged siblings take a road-trip with their dead father's ashes - rediscovering one another and reckoning with all the ways that trust can be betrayed and love can be redeemed.
Set in the suburbs and the cities of the modern world but about the ancient essences of who and what we are, Milk Blood Heat is a collection of love and sex, birth and death. Through the stories of ordinary characters confronted by extraordinary moments of violent yet often beautiful reckoning, Dantiel W. Moniz contemplates human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all. Wise and subversive, spiritual and seductive, Milk Blood Heat showcases that the world in which we live can be a place of obstacles and heartbreak... but also one of grace and splendour.
Another day! And then another and another and another. It seemed as if it would all go on forever in that exquisitely boring and beautiful way. But of course it wouldn't; everyone knows that.
In this collection, Hilma Wolitzer invites us inside the private world of domestic bliss, seen mostly through the lens of Paulie and Howard's gloriously ordinary marriage.
From hasty weddings to meddlesome neighbours, ex-wives who just won't leave, to sleepless nights spent worrying about unanswered chainmail, Wolitzer captures the tensions, contradictions and unexpected detours of daily life with wit, candour and an acutely observant eye.
Including stories first published in magazines in the 1960s and 1970s – alongside new writing from Wolitzer, now in her nineties – Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket reintroduces a beloved writer to be embraced by a new generation of readers.
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