PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2019 (Paperback)
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"Prominent issues of social justice and cultural strife are woven thematically throughout 12 stories. Stories of prison reform, the immigrant experience, and the aftermath of sexual assault make the book a vivid time capsule that will guide readers back into the ethos of 2019 for generations to come . . . Each story displays a mastery of the form, sure to inspire readers to seek out further writing from these adept authors and publications."—Booklist
Who are the most promising short story writers working today? Where do we look to discover the future stars of literary fiction? This book offers a dozen compelling answers to these questions.
The stories collected here represent the most recent winners of the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, which recognizes twelve writers who have made outstanding debuts in literary magazines in the previous year. Chosen by a panel of distinguished judges, themselves innovators of the short story form, they take us from the hutongs of Beijing to the highways of Saskatchewan, from the letters of a poet devoted to God in seventeenth–century France to a chorus of poets devoted to revolution in the “last days of empire.” They describe consuming, joyful, tragic, complex, ever–changing relationships between four friends who meet at a survivors group for female college students; between an English teacher and his student–turned–lover in Japan; between a mother and her young son.
In these pages, a woodcutter who loses his way home meets a man wearing a taxidermied wolf mask, and an Ivy League–educated “good black girl” climbs the flagpole in front of the capitol building in South Carolina. Each piece comes with an introduction by its original editors, whose commentaries provide valuable insight into what magazines are looking for in their submissions, and showcase the vital work they do to nurture literature’s newest voices.
Alice Sola Kim is a winner of the 2016 Whiting Award. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, McSweeney's, BuzzFeed, and The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has received grants and scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Elizabeth George Foundation.
Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for a Debut Short Story Collection, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize. She is the writer in residence at the University of Pennsylvania.
"The PEN America contest for outstanding debut fiction returns with a second annual anthology of remarkable prose. This year’s submissions were judged by an all-star trio of fiction writers: Jodi Angel, Lesley Nneka Arimah, and Alexandra Kleeman. Once again, the gathered contest winners are uniquely gifted writers whose stories represent literature’s bright tomorrow. The pieces showcase a wide breadth of human experiences, representing numerous racial, ethnic, and cultural identities . . . Sharp, engrossing, and sure to leave readers excited about the future of the craft." —Booklist
"Prominent issues of social justice and cultural strife are woven thematically throughout 12 stories. Stories of prison reform, the immigrant experience, and the aftermath of sexual assault make the book a vivid time capsule that will guide readers back into the ethos of 2019 for generations to come . . . Each story displays a mastery of the form, sure to inspire readers to seek out further writing from these adept authors and publications." —Booklist
"These dozen stories tend to the dark side, with rare moments of humor in a moody fictive landscape; they're thus just right for their time . . . A pleasure for fans of short fiction and a promise of good things to come from this year's roster of prizewinners." —Kirkus Reviews
“I was so blown away by the pieces we chose for this collection—there was a wonderful array of different styles and approaches in the submissions we received, but each of the stories we ended up choosing had something startlingly alive and bracingly imaginative within it. You can tell that these are writers working with total dedication to gift these fictive worlds to their readers, to make these surprising, vivid scenarios real—whether it's 1980s Ghana or a text-based RPG, these writers are adventurous and ambitious and committed to their vision. They grasp for what's difficult to conceive, and they succeed it capturing it on the page. There's always a lot of talk about whether the short story is tired out or dead or being killed off by MFA culture, but reading this work proves that inventive, exciting work is being created all over the country. I am so wildly enthusiastic about what these writers are going to go on to do next—and in reading this anthology, you get to say you've followed their entire career, from the very first short story on! You can't beat that.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and Intimations
"A book of gems, each one carrying its own particular clarity and cut, that teaches students of writing how limitless the short story form can be." —Marie-Helene Bertino, author of 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas Praise for PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2017
“Urgent fiction, from breakout talents." —Booklist
“A welcome addition to the run of established short story annuals, promising good work to come." —Kirkus Reviews
“A great overview of some of the year’s most interesting fiction.” —Vol. 1 Brooklyn