May is Short Story Month, and we at FSG are damn proud of the short stories we publish—so there’s no way we’d miss out on the fun. Our short story collections run the gamut. We’ve got classics like Bernard Malamud’s The Magic Barrel (to name just one), forthcoming collections from literary legends Jeffrey Eugenides and Susan Sontag, rediscovered gems like Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women, and, on our FSG Originals list, debut collections from authors making their first splash. From our sixty-year history of publishing the best short stories out there, here are just a few selections you cannot miss.
The Complete Stories
A chief figure in the Southern Gothic movement, this collection of all of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories is a master class in American short fiction. This chronological arrangement of her stories shows the arc of a career, from “The Geranium,” first published in 1946 while she was still a student at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, to her last work, “Judgement Day,” a clever recasting of the first.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
The short story encourages an elegance and economy of language—Wells Tower’s writing in Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned was described in the New York Times as “supple enough to wrap itself around several shades of meaning in the same sentence.” His seamy stories are populated with sad men stuck in their ways, all the while his prose continues to push forwards.
The Emerald Light in the Air
All the stories in The Emerald Light in the Air were drawn from Antrim’s long history of short stories in The New Yorker. They are viciously, darkly funny, treading the line between morbid humor and farce, but eventually settle into a search for something less funny: a character looking for some kind of solace.
Swimmer Among the Stars
Kanishk Tharoor’s stories dance between science fiction and magical realism, respun myths and reimaginings of the future ahead of us. Possibly the only book we’ve ever published that has spawned its own Twitter bot, Swimmer Among the Stars is an enchanting and inventive collection.
A Manual for Cleaning Women
During her lifetime, Lucia Berlin was a writer’s writer—her fans included Lydia Davis and the poet August Kleinzahler, but she was never widely read. Eleven years after her death in 2004, A Manual for Cleaning Women was published to wide acclaim, and Berlin’s graceful stories set in halfway houses and laundromats and decaying beach resorts suddenly thrust her work into the spotlight, appearing on 11 best-of lists that year, and hitting the New York Times bestseller list.
Gutshot is composed of stories only a page or two long, each completely disorienting and strange in its own right. An enormous snake serves as a wall to divide a town, a girl makes a home in the air vents above an apartment, a graveyard cleanup gone too far—each of these stories takes the reader into its own strange and particular universe.
Virgin and Other Stories
April Ayers Lawson
Evangelical Christian purity culture forms the central theme in this collection—each of the stories deals with awakenings sexual and spiritual. Taking its cues from the Southern Gothic, Virgin spins out in a direction all its own.
A few months after he published this debut collection, Prodigals, Greg Jackson was named one of the National Book Awards’ 5 under 35. The collection certainly bears that out—the New York Times’ Dwight Garner said it was “so bold and perceptive that it delivers a contact high.”
You Are Having a Good Time
Barrodale’s protagonists drink too much, say the wrong things, want the wrong people. Her startlingly funny and original fictions get under your skin and make you reconsider the fragile compromises that underpin our daily lives.
In her debut story collection Heartbreaker, Maryse Meijer peels back the crust of normalcy and convention, unmasking the fury and violence we are willing to inflict in the name of love and loneliness. In beautifully restrained and exacting prose, she crafts a landscape of appetites threatening to self-destruct.
Don’t Kiss Me
With broken language, deep vernacular, unexpectedly fierce empathy, and a pace that’ll break your granny’s neck, Lindsay Hunter lures, cajoles, and wrenches readers into the wild world of Don’t Kiss Me.
The Isle of Youth
Laura van den Berg
Each tale in this collection is spun with elegant urgency, and the reader grows attached to the marginalized young women in these stories—women grappling with the choices they’ve made and searching for the clues to unlock their inner worlds. This is the work of a fearless writer whose stories feel both magical and mystical, earning her the title of “sorceress” from her readers.
Turtleface and Beyond
Each of the stories in this collection is narrated by the hapless Georgie, and follows a series of misadventures and lapses in judgment. Bighearted and hilariously high-fueled, Turtleface and Beyond marks the return of a beloved and unforgettable voice in fiction.
At the Bottom of the River
Reading Jamaica Kincaid is to plunge, gently, into another way of seeing both the physical world and its elusive inhabitants. Her voice is, by turns, naively whimsical and biblical in its assurance, and it speaks of what is partially remembered partly divined.