A short list of short story collections—single author edition
A book list by Onset & Rime.
Here's Part 2 of our short story collection recommendations. This time we're looking at collections written by a single author.
A Note: Content warnings have been provided where appropriate. Highlight the "invisible" text beside the content warning label to see. Content warnings are not value statements about the books or judgements about the inclusion of any particular content. They are there to give you a heads up on what to be prepared for so you can choose if and/or when a book is right for you.
This collection of seven stories explores how history haunts us. Evans introduces us to Black and multiracial characters and takes a closer look at particular moments and relationships in their lives, provoking us to think about the truths of history and of who gets to tell it.
From the publisher: "In 'Boys Go to Jupiter,' a white college student tries to reinvent herself after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral. In "Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain," a photojournalist is forced to confront her own losses while attending an old friend's unexpectedly dramatic wedding. And in the eye-opening title novella, a black scholar from Washington, DC, is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk."
Genre: Contemporary and Historical Fiction
2) SMOKE AND MIRRORS by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's first collection of short stories is an imaginative collection, filled to the brim with stories that will chill you to the bone in one breath and make you laugh out loud in the next.
From the publisher: "[Gaiman] ... transform[s] a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders — a place where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under "Pest Control," and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality — obscured by smoke and darkness, yet brilliantly tangible — in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator."
3) HOW LONG 'TIL BLACK FUTURE MONTH by N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin is the first writer in history to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years. This is her first collection of short stories. With narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption, her stories examine modern society through the lenses of sci-fi and fantasy genres.
From the publisher: "Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story 'The City Born Great,' a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul."
4) THE PAPER MENAGERIE AND OTHER STORIES by Ken Liu
Ken Liu explores themes of individual and cultural identity in this incredibly diverse collection of stories.
From the publisher: "These fifteen evocative short stories and novellas tour the poignant history that always haunts immigrants, survivors of war, and our consistent technological advances as they are explored through love, race, and politics. An award-winning author, Liu and his stories invoke the magical within the mundane in profound and moving ways."
5) HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado
This genre bending collection takes a look at the realities of women's lives, how their bodies have been viewed in our societies, and the violence that is visited upon those bodies.
From the publisher: "A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella 'Especially Heinous,' Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes."
Content Warnings: violence against women, sexual assault
6) HOW TO PRONOUNCE KNIFE by Souvankham Thammavongsa
In this collection, Souvankham Thammavongsa gives us short, impactful stories about Lao immigrants. She breaks down instances of racism, classism, and sexism, showing how power and privilege drive success, while erasure and invisibility leads to isolation.
From the publisher: "The stories that make up 'How to Pronounce Knife' focus on characters struggling to find their bearings in unfamiliar territory, or shuttling between idioms, cultures, and values. A failed boxer discovers what it truly means to be a champion when he starts painting nails at his sister's salon. A young woman tries to discern the invisible but immutable social hierarchies at a chicken processing plant. A mother coaches her daughter in the challenging art of worm harvesting."
Content Warnings: racism, sexism