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Want to read a story with all the depth, questions and quality of a novel, written by highly skilled writers in about 5% of the space? Short stories can be heartbreaking, mysterious and incredibly detailed; for a perfectly formed, bite-sized smorgasbord of stories, browse our Short Story recommendations here.
Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts. Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Although these short stories might leave you with more questions than answers they are actually perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Just that little bit different (in fact strikingly different), Mexico Street challenges preconceptions and society issues, ensuring a full-on fabulous read. German public prosecutor Chastity is back, this time investigating a series of arson attacks that lead to the death of a man linked to criminal gangs. One thing to note straightaway is that I really feel you do need to have read the others in the Chastity Riley series to fully enjoy this one, otherwise too much would be unexplained and you would have to sprint like heck to keep up. Start with Blue Night, followed by Beton Rouge, both equally readable and also translated with surety by Rachel Ward. As usual Simone Buchholz snared my attention from the get-go. The words stormed my senses, falling like a sword and I found myself on full alert. Short, sharp, shocks of chapters hit, with the chapter headings almost creating their own story. Mexico Street, full of sparks and quirks, is 227 pages of wonderful. Adding to the series beautifully, I just had to include it as one of my Liz picks of the month.
This is not a new book but a specially adapted version of Adam Kay's bestseller This is Going to Hurt for Quick Reads. These short books are perfect for adults who are discovering reading for pleasure for the first time. Welcome to the life of a junior doctor. You work 97 hours a week. You make life and death decisions. You are often covered in blood (or worse) from head to toe. And the hospital parking meter earns more money than you do. Adam Kay's diary was written in secret after long days, sleepless nights and missed weekends. It is funny, moving and sometimes shocking. This is everything you wanted to know - and more than a few things you didn't - about life on and off the hospital ward.
Detective Inspector Harry Virdee has a lot on his plate. His team is facing government cuts, tensions are building between Bradford's two rival drugs gangs and his wife Saima is due to give birth any day now. So when bodies start turning up in the old industrial district, the pressure is on to get the case wrapped up as quickly as possible, or risk a full-scale gang war. But the man behind the murders is ruthless and pushy. And things are getting personal. Harry must think fast and bend the rules if he wants to keep his city, and his family, safe . . .
From the Queen of Feel-good Fiction! Lara Cliffe and her three friends are off on a mini break for her hen party. It's three weeks before her wedding to 'Steady Freddie', one of the kindest men on the planet. But something is worrying Lara. Her friends say it's wedding jitters, but she isn't so sure. Fifteen years ago the love of her life, Danny Belfont, walked out on her three weeks before their wedding and she has never been able to fully get him out of her heart. Then, on the overnight ferry, Lara finds out that Danny is playing in the onboard band and he spots her in the crowd. Will she meet him the next night to talk? As the wonderful city of Amsterdam works its magic on Lara, she tries to sort out her thoughts. And if fate has brought Lara and Danny back together ... is it really for love or for something quite different?
Sapphire is the hot-headed leader of the Red Roses in an area where gang loyalty is all that matters. But after a tragic event, Sapphire vows to leave her old life, friends and her gang behind. Life without the Red Roses and the violence that always followed them is certainly quieter. When she meets a boy called Apollo on her way to Notting Hill Carnival, she forms an instant bond with him. She thinks he could be the one. Until she discovers he's a member of rival gang, the Gold Teeth. Will she ever escape her past with the Red Roses, and how many lives will be ruined until she does? Funny, emotional and raw, with the Notting Hill Carnival acting as the backdrop of this retelling of West Side Story, by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Queenie.
From wronged wives to nosy neighbours, from distant dads to new-found family, from secrets to lies, fresh starts to false endings - and everything in between... A collection of brilliant short stories from the best writers around. This collections contains original stories from Fanny Blake, Louise Candlish, Mike Gayle, Mari Hannah, Sophie Kinsella, Jojo Moyes, Adele Parks, Ian Rankin, Mahsuda Snaith and Keith Stuart.
She gave you everything. But what does she want in return? When Lizzie's daughter Meg is given a life-saving heart transplant, Lizzie feels hugely grateful to the nameless donor. Then she receives a letter from the donor's mother, Karen, asking to meet, and it seems like the least she can do. But as soon as Karen is welcomed into their lives, Lizzie feels something isn't right. And before long, she can't help but worry that by inviting Karen in, she might have put Meg in danger . . .
A collection of Kafka's greatest short fiction, translated by Michael Hofmann Kafka's masterpiece of unease and black humour, Metamorphosis, the story of an ordinary man transformed into an insect, is brought together in this collection with the rest of his works that he thought worthy of publication. It includes Contemplation, a collection of his earlier short studies; The Judgement, written in a single night of frenzied creativity; The Stoker, the first chapter of a novel set in America; and an eyewitness account of an air display. Together, these stories, fragments and miniature gems reveal the breadth of his vision, his sense of the absurd, and above all his acute, uncanny wit. Translated with an introduction by Michael Hofmann
This haunting book focusing on motherhood and post-natal depression is small enough to slip into a pocket, yet the 48 pages really do pack an emotional punch. The narrator quietly builds a picture of her childhood before the story subtly moves in an altogether more chilling direction. A photograph sits centre stage, with memories constructed to fit a need, a want. The supernatural tone builds as the story continues, while the reality of post-natal depression hits home. The Haunting of Strawberry Water is part of the Spotlight collection of books. Spotlight is a collaboration between Creative Future, Myriad Editions and New Writing South to discover, guide and support writers whose voices are under-represented. A ghost story with a difference, The Haunting of Strawberry Water slips into thoughts and throughly provokes feelings.
This debut collection of fourteen fascinating and diverse stories plays out in different countries around the world. At the centre of each story sits the very nature of what it is to be an expatriate or migrant in a different country, and the sense of torn values and feelings between cultures. Author Elaine Chiew was born in Malaysia, graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a lawyer in New York before studying in London. She now lives in Singapore. Her writing ranges from thoughtful to provocative, pithy and vibrant observations bring these short stories to life. She has the ability to transfer emotions from the page, straight into my heart and mind. You can either throw yourself in from the beginning or take a pick and mix approach. The Heartsick Diaspora is a wonderful, thought provoking collection of stories, I can highly recommend.
Beginning with an address to Anansi, the trickster story teller god of African folklore, (“Anansi, your four gifts raised to nyame granted you no power over the stories I tell”), Derek Owusu’s That Reminds Me is a one-of-a-kind reading experience. K’s story will break your heart, and heal it. And Owusu’s writing will leave you stunned - it’s that unique, that honest, that impactful. K is a working-class boy born to Ghanaian parents in Tottenham. Fostered as a child, he’s relocated to an unfamiliar rural environment, where there are woods and fields instead of flats and video shops. When he returns to London at the age of eleven, the city has become alien to him - and his birth parents have too. Once again K must re-find himself. Piece himself together, and perhaps find friendship and love along with his identity. Told through K’s fragmented memories, this is an exceptional coming-of-age story that lingers long in the soul. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
There is a real skill in being able to conjure a whole life in just a few pages, to be able to leave a reader with an enduring feeling in just a short time. Here you will find lasting stories about life the universe and everything, from authors you already know as novelists and some that will be knew and welcome friends. We love a good short story, not just because they provide great reading in bite-size chunks - perfect for the trip to work, or a moment when you just want a small piece of brilliance in your life – but also because they are (if they are good) a perfect piece of art, capturing the human condition in a snapshot that stays with the reader for much longer than it took to write. As Graham Greene put it; “a novel can seldom have the sense of perfection which you find in Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Dog.” From Chekhov to Julian Barnes via a whole host of other perfectionists, we have hand-picked the very best of short story collections for readers of all tastes.