Short and Spicy

Staff Picks

Short and Spicy

Short Story Collections by Women Writers

These short story collections by women writers, presented in order of publication date, bring us sharp and refreshing perspectives from around the world.
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
When the feature story of this collection was first published in the New Yorker in 1948, people sent hate mail and cancelled their subscriptions. See what all the fuss was about in these haunting portraits of humanity by American writer Shirley Jackson. My top recommendation: "The Lottery."
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Published in 1999. This Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Hemingway Award-winning short story collection by an American writer of Indian heritage shines a spotlight on the Indian-American experience. Lahiri includes us in the dilemmas experienced when the characters cross cultures and generations in India and America. My top recommendation: “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar.”
The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector
Published in 2015. Translated from the Portuguese. These sharp-edged vignettes by Brazilian-Jewish writer Clarice Lispector defy categorizations. They contain multitudes of estrangement, vulnerability and fraught complacency. The writing scorns plot, insists on unprofessionalism and illuminates the labyrinths of life. My top recommendation: “Better Than To Burn.”
Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
Published in 2015. This heavily awarded collection by American short story master Edith Pearlman casts familiar human hardships in a light of kindness, intimacy and warmth. Both poetic and precise, these stories involve us in key moments of emotion and pain and leave us in a wake of forgiveness and love. My top recommendation: “Tenderfoot.”

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Published in 2016. This collection of linked short stories by Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Gyasi follows the lines of two half-sisters from 18th century Ghana to the present day. One sister stays in Africa while the other is sold into the transatlantic slave trade. My top recommendation: “Effia.” Available as a sound recording: Homegoing.
I Am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy
Published in 2017. Translated from the Italian. Call them disturbing. Call them intriguing. Swiss writer Fleur Jaeggy brings us a collection of experimental works, neither linear nor logical, but extremely clear about one thing: how they feel. My top recommendation: “Agnes.”

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Published in 2018. This collection of loosely linked short stories set in modern day challenges the idea of an authentic black identity or a black monolith. The vivid middle-class characters pinball precariously through life, vulnerable and pressured from all sides. My top recommendation: “The Necessary Changes Have Been Made.” Available as a sound recording: Heads of the Colored People.

The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Davila
Published in 2018. Translated from the Spanish. This debut collection in English by Mexican writer Amparo Davila takes us on a gripping ride to the intersection of madness and sanity. The characters draw us into the reality of obsession and expose the precarious imbalances of modern life. My top recommendation: “Moses and Gaspar.”