Organ donation is in its infancy and Daisy Howard, who is giving a kidney to her aunt, is in the hands of a pioneering surgeon. After the operation, Daisy is desperate to get back to her family, yet the days go by and she remains in the hospital; meanwhile, an old friend keeps visiting with news of home, and Daisy becomes increasingly uneasy.
From the nightmarish first story set in the South China Sea in 1946 to the final piece, set nowhere at the end of time, Brief Lives demonstrates in a short compass a huge range in technique and milieu and a unity of theme and sensibility. It opens naturalistically but is distinctly non-realist by the close. We meet an ex-collier in 1950 anguishing over whether to return to the pit, a young mother in the early 1960s quietly shepherding those around her through a bleak Christmas day, an industrial chemist in this century plunged into vortices of memories that cause him to question his grasp of the world, and more. Meredith’s fiction has been marked by its willingness to push at literary boundaries, and Brief Lives is no exception: it is an intense distillation of Meredith’s abiding concerns to explore how memory shapes the present and the present shapes memory, the interplay between beautifully realised individual lives and the wider historical process, and the paradox of simultaneous human isolation and community.
From well-known and award-winning authors-including Bernardine Evaristo, Fred D’Aguiar, and Leone Ross-to previous unpublished writers, this ambitious and intriguing anthology of short stories showcases each author’s most challenging work. These works from writers who are happy to describe themselves as Black British, have a rich variety of styles, forms, and themes, from raw realism, the erotic, and elegant economy, to the fanciful, humorous, and the tender.
The contributors to Closure display a keen awareness of the short story form in all its contemporary possibilities as a way of telling and finding a form for the writer’s vision. These are stories about the ways in which we do and do not love, unrequited yearnings, the quiet and often hidden violence in our lives, moments of epiphany, and the precious occasions of jubilation and uplift.
Seventeen tales, whittled down from a total of almost 200 submitted from writers both established and unknown, bring a selection both paying homage to the tradition of the ghost story and placing it frmly in the context of our own times. Thus, ghosts appear on football terraces, from cancer wards, on the ﬂoor of TV shows, on the late night service bus, over a Sunday dinner and at a supermarket checkout. Authors include Wendy Robertson, Kitty Fitzgerald and Beda Higgins plus a host of promising new writers.
A brave, exciting and adult collection that entertains with wit, shocks with frankness, and engages both intellect and emotion. Richly varied, it ranges from extended stories to intense pieces of flash fiction. Stories may be set in realistic settings – but develop magical narrative twists that make us see all afresh. Others begin in fantasy – returnees from the dead, a man who finds discarded hymens – but are so skilfully realist we can only believe in their actuality.
The thread connecting the tales in ‘Corksucker‘ is the years Fante spent as a cab driver and self loathing alcoholic in the pitiless sunshine of Los Angles. All of the anger and rage of the novels are here, yet the format of the short story allows him to shift focus away from Fante as anti-hero and focus on the bizarre and damaged characters who come in and out of his orbit: the sad, petty, spiteful alcoholic doorman known as Wifebeater Bob, the beautiful, grief-crazed, tragic Mrs. Randolph and most memorably the smacked-out, fast talking, amoral Libby who along with his girlfriend Niggabitch and their insatiable pet boa constrictor form the nucleus of one of the collections stand out stories – the outrageous, ghoulish black comedy ‘Princess.’
Earwigging is a journey, never lingering for too long in any one place. It is the written equivalent of walking through a train station or waiting for a friend in a pub, conversations drifting in and out of earshot, only ever in part and neither beginning nor resolved. It is the overheard world. It is poignant, it is as unreal as only reality can be. It is hilarious.
Exire is not a novel. It is not a collection of short stories. It is, instead, both of these things: stories that may stand alone whilst being inextricably tied together. It is Helen Mort’s first foray into the world of fiction beyond poetry.
Exire: Dystopian Britain, the year unspecified. A new website, Exire, offers those who feel disconnected from their lives one last act of choice, packaged as a bespoke service. In this unsettling collection, voices fade in and out, people connected by Exire’s troubling appeal. At the heart of it all is Lorna, a young musician who has made a painful decision. We hear her story in reverse.
The collection ‘Fariground Magician’ brings together stories about love fulfilled and unfulfilled, about things that are visible in the everyday world and values that are perceptible only at exceptional moments. The narration moves from apparent realism to other genres, such as crime fiction, the thriller and erotic prose. Memories, intimations, and premonitions are infused in these stories with a tranquillity that accepts what fate brings, even when, as in the stories Pockets Full of Stones or Nosedive, efforts are made to change it. Lengold uses eroticism as a natural ingredient of human life, as an integrated tension consisting of two inseparable aspects – body and soul – energising stories like Love Me Tender, Fairground Magician, Zugzwang, Wanderings, and Aurora Borealis. In Fairground Magician, Lengold is a lucid observer of minute details and subtle emotional shifts. In stories like It Could Have Been Me, Shadow, or Ophelia, Get Thee to a Nunnery, she manages to leap over the wall between the bodily surface and the human interior in a very distinctive way. No matter how common the situations she depicts – whether it be broken marriages, unfulfilled expectations, or the motives of forlorn lovers – Lengold is constantly searching for the authentic, finding it within the sophisticated irony which is a trademark of her fiction.
How do we even begin to narrate the history of the world? Where do we start, and where do we end? Fireflies is Luis Sagasti’s bold and original attempt to answer these questions. Taking an eclectic array of influences and personalities from modern history, he teases out events that at first glance seem random and insignificant and proceeds to weave them together masterfully, entertaining as he enlightens. Joseph Beuys, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Stanley Kubrick, Neil Armstrong, Wittgenstein, Glenn Miller and the Beatles; poets and authors, priests, astronauts and Russian sailors all make an appearance, and Sagasti finds common threads to bind their stories together.
The fireflies themselves perhaps provide the key to understanding this book. They become a metaphor for the resistance of certain luminous moments, certain twinkling fragments of history, to the passing of time. They remind us that events do not always disappear neatly into the darkness, but rather remain, floating in the air, lighting up the night sky for years to come. Sagasti shows us that the present moment, like this novel, is a tapestry woven of a multiplicity of times.
Using his unique, poetic and keenly observant style, Sagasti turns the accidents of history into a single, lyrical constellation, and for the reader it’s an extraordinary sight.
Uncomfortable family situations, unfortunate health conditions, people on the brink of survival this is what each story in this collection captures, every ripple and every echo that travels from one person to another. With narrative ease and a seductive pull, Margarita García Robayo reminds us that sometimes intimate struggles are as fragile as they are political, and there is nothing but time that keeps us going.
A refreshing and luminous novella, Until a Hurricane can be read as a flamed rite of passage novel but also as a story of a turn against the what one s country makes you dream for. Longing to get out of the coastal village where she lives, an ambitious girl thinks up the best plan for escape: becoming a flight attendant. In her cynical and sad voice and a dark, dirty city, we find the other side of the happy Caribbean. In this context, another American dream is lived and relationships start to fumble and bring claustrophobia. It s a habitat that naturalizes petty violence and where the accepted code is competition and necessity. A story that ponders the destiny of its characters in the middle of catastrophes that can be real, self-provoked or the result of an intelligent strategy.
Glass Work Humans is a bold, unflinching collection of short stories and poems offering an honest and, at times, darkly humorous glimpse into the fragile and precarious lives of ordinary men and women in 21st-century Scotland. From the steelworker penning a suicide note in his lunch hour to the lonely divorcee finding comfort in a swarm of bees, the war-weary ex-copper toasting lost lives and the battle-scarred son dealing with his violent past, these are all people on the brink but not quite ready to break – seeking hope, salvation and solace in the smallest of everyday miracles.
Tom Gillespie is a Scottish-born novel and short story writer, now living in exile in Bath, England. His stories have been published worldwide in journals, e-zines and creative anthologies. His latest novel, The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce (Vine Leaves Press), has been praised by critics as ‘brilliantly unsettling’ and ‘obsessively compelling’. Tom is a graduate of Glasgow University and works as an English lecturer.
Paul Cowan grew up in Falkirk in central Scotland. After leaving school, he trained as a welder, which took him up and down the country and abroad. He even dipped his toes in the North Sea and worked offshore. He has been honing his skill as a writer, using his own life experiences as his guide, for nearly twenty years. His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Paul can still be found in Falkirk and has a five-year-old daughter.
John McKenzie grew up in Menstrie, a small village in Scotland. He worked in the financial sector until returning to education in his mid-thirties. Six years and one undergraduate degree course later, John is about to complete his Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling. He is also working on his first novel.
Winner, “Best Anthology” at the Saboteur Awards 2019
Drinking stories are told by drunks, or about drunks; they are told in pubs, or set in pubs. They are stories where people drink, and stories which somehow induce a sense of drunkenness in readers and listeners. Anton Chekhov may or may not have drunkenly compared the experience of reading a short story to downing a shot of vodka, and F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed that a good short story could “be written on a bottle.” Here is a collection of contemporary short stories written on and about bottles – stories about the comedies, tragedies, pleasures, pains and horrors of alcohol – all of which can be downed like (and perhaps with) a glass of vodka.
‘An intoxicating cocktail of stories. Drink deep, but be warned: there is darkness in the cup.’ Will Buckingham
Gary Budden’s debut collection blends the traditions of weird fiction and landscape writing in an interlinked set of stories from the emotional geographies of London, Kent, Finland and a place known as the Hollow Shore.
The Hollow Shore is both fictional and real. It is a place where flowers undermine railway tracks, relationships decay and monsters lurk. It is the shoreline of a receeding, retreating England. This is where things fall apart, waste away and fade from memory. Finding horror and ecstasy in the mundane, Hollow Shores follows characters on the cusp of change in broken-down environments and the landscapes of the mind.
t’s a quiet house, sheltered, standing in a mass of tangled old trees called the Holtwood. Raymond watches it. He’s been watching it, through a gap in the fence at the bottom of the garden, for weeks. Thinking about the elderly owners, Mr and Mrs Latch, who took him in one night when he was a frightened boy caught up in an emergency. Mr Latch showed him something that was kept in a wardrobe in the spare room. He can’t remember what it was. He only knows how sick it made him feel. Raymond watches Holt House. He has to remember what he saw. He has to get inside.
London, early-1970s. In a city plagued by football violence, Republican bombings, blackouts and virulent racism, a new urban myth is taking hold. Among the broken down estates, crumbling squats and failed projects of a dying metropolis, whispered sightings of a malevolent figure nicknamed the Judderman are spreading. A manifestation of the sick psyche of a city, or something else?
In a pink-walled motel, a teenage prostitute brings a grown man to tears. A lovestruck young boy holds the dismembered hand of his crush, only to find himself the object of a complex ménage à trois. A naked body falls from the window of a twenty-storey building, while two female office workers offer each other consolation in the elevator…
In these wry and unsettling stories, Prabda Yoon once again illuminates something of the strangeness of modern cultural life in Bangkok. Disarming the reader with surprising charm, intensity and delicious horror, he explores what it means to have a body, and to interact with those of others.
Winner, “Best Anthology” at the Saboteur Awards 2017.
The result of the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize, launched in late 2015, this is a collection of thoughtful and poignant responses to the story of David Oluwale, hounded to his death in the River Aire in 1969. The 1971 trial in Leeds, UK, of the two policemen accused of his manslaughter brought David’s plight briefly into the national spotlight; newspaper reports by Ron Phillips, a BBC radio play by Jeremy Sandford and poetry by Linton Kwesi Johnson followed. Then David was mostly forgotten, while the issues that he embodied – hostility to migration, racism, mental ill-health, homelessness, police malpractice and destitution – continued to scar British society, still making headlines fifty years on.
Remembering Oluwale includes extracts from recent books about David by Caryl Phillips and Kester Aspden, as well as poems responding to his story by Ian Duhig, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sai Murray, Zodwa Nyoni, and many other contemporary writers. The resulting body of work serves as an introduction to some fascinating new voices in UK literature, and also as a clarion call for us to re-make our neighbourhoods as places of inclusion, acceptance and hospitality.
Commissioned by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, these twenty-one all-original stories by a rogues gallery of bestselling authors will delight and astonish you in equal measure with their cunning twists and dazzling reversals. Featuring stories by Joe Abercrombie, Daniel Abraham, David W. Ball, Paul Cornell, Bradley Denton, Phyllis Eisenstein, Gillian Flynn, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Hughes, Joe R. Lansdale, Scott Lynch, Garth Nix, Cherie Priest, Patrick Rothfuss, Steven Saylor, Michael Swanwick, Lisa Tuttle, Carrie Vaughn, Walter Jon Williams and Connie Willis. George R. R. Martin himself offers a brand new Game of Thrones tale chronicling one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of the Ice and Fire saga.
Are you ready to travel to the outer limits of your imagination? This eclectic collection of science fiction writing and visuals, originally curated by York St John University’s Terra Two online magazine, is ready to blast off on a mind-expanding journey through space, time and consciousness, asking key questions along the way about our society, spirituality and sustainability.
Through essays, drawings, poetry and fiction – including six new short stories exclusive to this anthology – an intrepid band of author adventurers have taken a giant leap into the unknown, to provide a survival guide for those of us curious enough to follow in their pioneering footsteps.
Ten startling short stories. Vivid glimpses of lives and landscapes from the North West Coastline of England. Edited by Jenn Ashworth. Authors: Louise Ayre, Carys Bray, Bethan Ellis, Andrew Michael Hurley, Pete Kalu, Paul Kingsnorth, Kirsty Logan, Anita Sethi, MelissaWan and Lucy Wilkinson Yates.
On the eve of an important battle, a colonel is visited in his tent by an indigenous woman with a message to pass on. A man sets about renovating the house of his childhood, and starts to feel that he might be rebuilding his own life in the process. At a private clinic to treat the morbidly obese, a caregiver has issues of her own…
Acclaimed writer and poet Jorge Consiglio presents a universe of seemingly unrelated tales, linked perhaps by a certain rhythm in the prose or subtle dimensions of violence and perversion. These are stories of immigration, marginality, history, intimacy and obsession which are masterful and deeply touching, domestic yet universal. They each present their own distinctive view of the world through the lives of their respective characters who are as dissimilar as they are complex and the profound transformations they undergo. As reflections on the uncontrollable nature of life, as depictions of how even the most innocent detail can become a threat, these stories do not offer neat endings but rather remain open to the reader’s sense of inquisitiveness.
In Syria, culture has become a critical line of defence
Syria Speaks is a celebration of a people determined to
reclaim their dignity, freedom and self-expression. It
showcases the work of over fifty artists and writers who
are challenging the culture of violence in Syria. Their
literature, poems and songs, cartoons, political posters
and photographs document and interpret the momentous
changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically
Moving and inspiring, Syria Speaks is testament to the
courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people.
A unique anthology providing a window into Syrian art and
writing since the uprising. Contributors include
internationally renowned artists and writers, such as
Ali Ferzat, Samar Yazbek, Khaled Khalifa and Robin Yassin-Kassab.
With The Barbarians Arrive Today, Evan Jones has produced the classic English Cavafy for our age. Expertly translated from Modern Greek, this edition presents Cavafy’s finest poems, short creative prose and autobiographical writings, offering unique insights into his life’s work.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Constantine Petrou Cavafy (1863-1933) was a minor civil servant who self-published and distributed his poems among friends; he is now regarded as one of the most significant poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an influence on writers across generations and languages. The broad, rich world of the Mediterranean and its complex history are his domain, its days and nights of desire and melancholy, ambition and failure – with art always at the centre of life.
Madame Spots is lauded for setting up a free school in her village, but her seductive silk qipao and obvious wealth elicit deadly envy as well as admiration. The Phoenix Widow finds a jar of ingots but loses her precious son to wily and, ultimately, unwise kidnappers. Little Spoon stumbles into Running Cow Valley Village with two pails on her water pole and inadvertently becomes a hero to people parched of leadership. Feng Laicai, a diminutive farmer with a life of bad luck behind him, is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, thanks to a scholarly goat.
Set in the counties of the Western Plain, these bleak yet beautiful stories shed an incisive light on the extraordinary lives of colourful people. While closely observing the triumphs and tragedies of a cast of unforgettable characters, the ten stories that make up this important collection also bear witness to the evolution of rural China from the early days of the 20th century to the late 1980s, skillfully illustrating the often brutal battle between tradition and progress.
A debutante frees a hyena from the zoo so that it might take her place at her coming-out ball; an artist paints a portrait of a man s dead wife, but finds she has painted herself instead; a woman makes love to a boar underneath a mountain of cats; a chicken is roasted with the brains and livers of thrushes, truffles, crushed sweet almonds, rose conserve and drops of divine liqueur; two noble sisters wonder whether anybody can be a person of quality if they wash away their ghosts with common sense; a psychoanalyst must decide what to do with the gift of a team of Russian rats trained to operate on humans.
In this first complete edition of Leonora Carrington’s short stories, written throughout her life from her early years in Surrealist Paris to her late period in Dirty War-era Mexico City, the world is by turns subversive, funny, sly, wise and disarming.
A man does battle with a wolf, two sworn brothers lock horns – literally – as they drink and brag the night away, and an old man turns to his flame-bellied stove for comfort when facing a bitter winter alone.
These are just some of the fascinating folk who inhabit the magical stories of Hong Ke. Set in Xinjiang, the gateway between China and Middle Asia, The Howl of the Wolf paints a colourful picture of frontier life in all its earthy glory.
Why did Joe dodge his shift down the mine and what happened when his brother took his place? Why did an encounter with an upturned glass so terrify a group of newsmen? Just what was the dire prophecy of Seaman Flack? What will be the terrible consequence of Klara’s pregnancy? These and other intriguing questions are posed in Gerard Loughran s short stories, written after many years of foreign reporting and set in venues as far apart as Africa today and yesterday, Austria in the days when Jews couldn t be doctors, Germany in the distracted memories of an old soldier and our own not-quite-so-cosy Home Counties.
In a nameless suburb in an equally nameless country, every house has a room reserved for the president. No one knows when or why this came to be. It’s simply how things are, and no one seems to question it except for one young boy.
The room is kept clean and tidy, nobody talks about it and nobody is allowed to use it. It is for the president and no one else. But what if he doesn’t come? And what if he does? As events unfold, the reader is kept in the dark about what’s really going on. So much so, in fact, that we begin to wonder if even the narrator can be trusted . . .
Ricardo Romero has been compared to Kafka and Italo Calvino, and we see why in this eerie, meditative novel narrated by a shy young boy who seems to be very good at lying about the truth. Following in the footsteps of Julio Cortázar and a certain literary tradition of sinister rooms (such as Dr Jekyll’s laboratory), The President’s Room is a mysterious tale based on the suspicion that a house is never just one single home.
Jonathan Lethem again displays his brilliance in this collection of seven short stories, blurring the boundaries of sci-fi, mystery, and thriller. Tales include ‘Light and the Sufferer’, in which a crack addict is dogged by an invulnerable alien; ‘The Hardened Criminals’, wherein convicts are used as building blocks for new prisons; and ‘The Happy Man’, whose hapless protagonist is raised from the dead to support his family, only to suffer periodic out-of-body sojourns in Hell. Each tale features Lethem’s characteristic deadpan wit and unflinchingly macabre vision of life.
‘When I come home and leave behind Dark things I would not call to mind …’ wrote Leslie Coulson, one of the many soldiers who tried to express his wartime experiences in writing: dreaming of an idyllic England in the face of the horror of the Western Front. Coulson was one of the hundreds of thousands who did not come home – but because of his poetry we glimpse something of his thoughts and experiences.
Today we can be grateful that so many of those who endured the First World War did write about it: giving us an unmatched view of an event which would otherwise be completely beyond our ability to imagine. The Writers’ War is a collection of excerpts from outstanding accounts of the First World War. It provides an essential insight to anyone interested in modern history or early twentieth-century literature. Extraordinary extracts bring the human experience of war brilliantly to life – from the terror of bombardment, or the camaraderie of military service, to the home front.
The writing reflects an enormous range of nationalities and personalities. It includes memorable poetry, fiction, and journalism. Some great names of modern English literature appear, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, D. H. Lawrence and Rudyard Kipling. In addition, there are superb accounts by foreign authors such as novelists Edith Wharton and Henri Barbusse, and flying ace Manfred von Richthofen. The Writers’ War gives an unparalleled insight into a world-changing event, and what it meant in human terms both to the writers and millions of others caught up in it.