Ella found it difficult to concentrate during the last lockdown so turned to short stories to ease her restless mind. Here are some of the brilliant collections she read and other shop favourites.
You Think It, I'll Say It: Ten scorching stories of self-deception by the Sunday Times bestselling author
Curtis Sittenfeld£8.99 £8.36
This is one of the most readable short story collections out there - full of wit, tenderness, and razor-sharp observations from the author of Rodham and The American Life. In each of these stories, Sittenfeld creates believable, compelling characters, while skewering contemporary mores.
Carmen Maria Machado£8.99 £8.36
From Iowa Creative Writing graduate Carmen Maria Machado, this anthology of stories is earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious. In it, Machado swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. A spectacular examination of womanhood, the body, and the possibilities of fiction itself.
Samantha Hunt£9.99 £9.29
A warning: this book just gets darker and darker. After Ella finished Samantha Hunt's stunning fever dream of a novel, The Seas, she immediately bought all her other published work. Laced with lyricism and hope, these stories are full of Hunt's sly wit and haunted imagination. The Dark Dark is a brilliant and unflinching gaze into the ordinary horrors of human existence.
Kathryn Scanlan£9.99 £9.29
Another unsettling collection, Kathryn Scanlan's ambitious debut is a sharp and finely tuned gem. In these forty very short stories, grandmothers sit tethered to the couch in a blue spell, lonesome men crouch among thorny shrubs, pets expire slowly or suddenly, and the nature of love is questioned at a golf course, a flower shop, an all-you-can-eat buffet. This was one of Sophie's favourite lockdown reads.
Hiromi (Y) Kawakami£12.99 £12.08
Hannah was riveted by the latest Kawakami. In these super short and interlocking ‘palm of the hand’ stories the world is never quite as it should be: a small child lives under a sheet near his neighbour’s house for thirty years; an old man has two shadows, one docile, the other rebellious; two girls named Yoko are locked in a bitter rivalry to the death. These bitesize fairy tales are curious, funny, and occasionally macabre.
Zadie Smith£8.99 £8.36
Ella found this an addictive, variegated, and highly readable collection. Smith manages to encompass a dazzling spectrum of human life within its pages, each character vividly and masterfully portrayed. From the historic to the current to the slyly dystopian, Grand Union is a sharply alert and prescient collection.