Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Temporary Lives by Ramola D

One of the truths about reading stories that writing this blog has reaffirmed for me is the desire of both writers and readers to get a confirming response from someone else. This is usually expressed by the phrase, “I would really like to know what you think about….” When I am presented with this tacit request, I am pleased that someone “really” wants to know what I think about a story. After all, I have made a career of sorts out of expressing my thoughts about stories, and, although I have retired from the classroom, I am obviously not quite ready to give that career up, even if it is now de facto and unpaid. So when a fellow reader asks me what I think about a story or a collection of stories, I always try to oblige. If you have followed this blog in the past couple of years, you will know that I am a little behind in these obligations as the story collections pile up around me. But I will get to them. I promise.

Less frequently, writers contact me, thanking me for favorably mentioning their work and for my efforts in behalf of the underestimated short story form. I always respond to these comments with a review or some informal remarks, for I appreciate writers who acknowledge and value their readers. So when I got an email from a writer named Ramola D a few weeks ago, asking me if I would be interested in reading her collection of stories Temporary Lives and commenting on it on my blog, I said, “Sure.”

Then I started to worry. What if I don’t like it? That is, what if I think it is poorly written? I never worry about such things when I am reviewing a book for a newspaper, for then the paper sends me the book and pays me for an honest review that has nothing to do with the author. But this was different. The author herself had said to me, “I would really like to know what you think about….” Although I knew the old axiom, “Even a bad review is better than no review at all,” I tentatively decided that if I thought the book was poorly written I would just not say anything. While waiting to receive it, I did the usual Internet research about this woman named Ramola D. Here is what I found out:

Ramola D was born and grew up in what was then Madras, India, where she got a B.A. in physics and an MBA in marketing. She also got a degree in journalism and worked as a free lance writer for a while in India before getting a teaching assistantship and graduate fellowship to study creative writing at George Mason University, where she received her MFA. She has since taught composition and creative writing at various universities and companies. Ramola Dharmaraj is now forty-five and lives with her husband and young daughter in Arlington, VA. She teaches creative writing part-time at The George Washington University and The Writers Center, Bethesda.

Ramola D has published short stories, poetry, and essays in such places as Prairie Schooner, Green Mountain Review, Agni, and Indiana Review. One of her stories, “The Next Corpse Collector,” appeared in Best American Fantasy in 2007 and was included on the “100 Other Distinguished Stories” list in Best American Short Stories 2007. Her short story collection Temporary Lives won the AWP Grace Paley Award in Short Fiction in 2008. Her poetry has been published in various places, including The Best American Poetry 1994. Her first collection of poems, Invisible Season, published in 1998, won a Washington Writers’ Publishing House prize.

I was beginning to feel a lot better. Ramola D’s career seemed like a paradigm of the serious writer devoted to her craft. The couple of interviews I read reaffirmed that impression. She has been writing the stories in Temporary Lives over the past twelve or thirteen years, beginning with impressionistic, lyrical stories, “playing,” as she says “with language and form a good deal.” However, she soon found out that the New York publishers thought the stories were “too literary” to merit publication. So she started work on a novel, coming back to the story collection, periodically adding a few more traditional, i.e. less “literary,” stories, and sending it out again. Then, after making the finalist list of the 2004 Nebraska Book Series, Temporary Lives was selected winner of the 2008 AWP Grace Paley Short Fiction competition.

When I received the book from the University of Massachusetts Press, I read all the stories in about three settings, and I was happy that I thought they were well written, honest, serious stories. Of course, I was happy. I certainly get no pleasure out of reading careless stories, cynical stories, coldly calculated stories, stories that underestimate my intelligence and attention. Then, of course, as I always do, I waited a few days and read the stories again, more slowly and carefully. A serious short story writer deserves this close second reading. Indeed, one of the reasons that so many readers do not like short stories is that they hurry through a story once and, finding no easy plot, simple character, or transparent style, they toss it aside with a uncomprehending shrug. One of my great disappointments when I was teaching was failing to get my students to read a story assignment more than once before they came to class. What they usually did was read the story once, perform the obligatory shrug, and then come to class to watch me struggle guiding them through the “second” reading as a group.

After reading Ramola D’s stories twice, I was sorry to discover that Temporary Lives had not received any reviews. It only reminded me of the problem that writers face getting their books noticed, especially when they are short stories, and especially when they are published by an underfunded university press that cannot afford to promote them, even when they win prizes that are especially created to encourage attention. A couple of weeks ago, after I had read Ramola D’s book, I did receive a notice by Julia Bohanna in The Short Review, a journal that does an energetic job to promote the short story. Placing her in the Chekhov tradition for her empathy with her characters, Bohanna says that Ramola D’s stories provide “poetic lessons of life that the reader may take away with them. Carpe diem, perhaps. Or that risk-taking and passion rather than passivity is the secret to living a solid and sated life.” Well, I am not sure about lessons; that’s not what I go to short fiction for. But I do think that the stories in Temporary Lives are scrupulous explorations of the secrets that Ramola D’s characters hold and harbor, and which sometimes entrap them in isolation and loneliness. Here are my favorites:

“In Another World” and “Room Enough for the Sky” are both tightly controlled lyrical evocations of the secret lives of young Indian women who feel caught by their inescapable being as women. In the first, a young girl rejects her budding breasts and is horrified by her first period. In the second, a young pregnant wife is tormented by the memory of her tyrannical father, controlled by a traditional husband, and threatened by his leering younger brother. There is no reason these two women should be so limited in their dreams, except the weight of a culture that clings to the past. The story about women trapped by cultural bias and male ignorance that most strongly garnered my sympathy, however, is “The Couple in the Park,” in which a mother is haunted by a beguiling image that seems to embody all that she is and all that she would wish to be.

“The Next Corpse Collector” is a more plot-based story about a man who brings up his two sons in the honorable task of preparing for burial the corpses of those who live on the streets. When the older son rebels and leaves home, the younger son feels trapped in this task he would put from him if he could. The story is thematically controlled around the fear of death and the possible redemption of the body.

In “The Man on the Veranda” and “What the Watchman Saw,” Ramola D channels the voices of two men—one who is caught in an intrigue with a robbery, involving an even more serious theft, torn by his responsibility to his role as a night watchman and his fear of involvement—and another who has spent his life posturing and parading and now feels the rest of the world, particularly his wife, owes him obeisance.

In an interview, Ramola D said she knew early on what the title of her book would be: “Temporary Lives is also the name of a story, one of the early-written ones --and I tried to listen for echoes to this center in the other stories I had. Rose Ammal, the main character in Temporary Lives, modelled on my grandmother’s generation, and privy to all sorts of oppression and repression by way of being female, as well as some rather extraordinary betrayal --comes to something of an understanding of her hardships as temporary, in her struggle to find meaning and reclaim her life.”

I understand Ramola D’s thinking about this title for her book. But for me, the title that best sums up the stories is the first one in the collection, “In Another World.” When asked in an interview what the word “story” meant to her, Ramola D said: “I think to me a story is a movement into another space, its own dimension. Stories create their own worlds. The more a story can draw me into its space, into someone’s experience - -through whatever means it chooses, language or event or sensibility --the more power it has to affect me, to impact, to resonate.”

Yes, indeed! And it is precisely Ramola D’s ability to create these alternate worlds, allowing me to participate in the secret lives of her characters that I find most irresistible. I thank her for honoring me by posing my favorite introit: “I would really like to know what you think about these stories.”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Joan Leegant's An Hour in Paradise

Joan LeeGant was kind enough to write to thank me for including her collection An Hour in Paradise on my list of 100 favorite story collections for the 21st century. I appreciate her response, for I value the relationship between good writers and careful readers. W.W. Norton has just published her first novel, Wherever You Go. (For more about the book, please visit: www.joanleegant.com.)

I am working on a presentation I am giving next April in Angers, France on the The Short Story and the Author and am looking into reasons why writers like short stories better than readers do and take them more seriously than critics do. If anyone has some ideas on this subject, I would appreciate hearing them.

Here is my brief review of Joan Leegant's An Hour in Paradise

In one of her essays, Joan Leegant describes flying home from a conference in 1998, where her first published story—about a rabbi who considers completing a minyan with a pair of Siamese twins—had won a prize. Flush with this initial success, Leegant wondered if readers might want more of these kinds of stories.

And what kind of stories are these ten well-crafted pieces, many of which have won additional prizes? Well, first of all, they are the kind of stories that focus on modern Jewish characters challenged by the moral and ethical demands of their history and their faith. Second of all, they are the kind of stories that appear in such small circulation literary journals as, Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, and The New England Review.

They are the kind of stories that Bernard Malamud used to write; they are just not as mythic and metaphoric. They are the kind of stories that Cynthia Ozick writes; they are just not as dense and intellectual. They may even be a bit like the kind of stories that made a short-term celebrity out of Nathan Englander; they are just not as slick and self-consciously structured. All the stories explore similar issues of Jewish belief and life.

The Siamese twin story, entitled “The Tenth,” follows the classic short story convention of evoking a “disturbance of the ordinary” that challenges orthodoxy and individual assumptions and hovers on the blurry line between reality and the fabulous.

“The Seventh Year” is about a 70-year-old Jerusalemite who, although not particularly religious, is caught up in the meaning of the commandment in Leviticus that every seventh year the land of Israel be allowed to rest—which allows Leegant to explore the belief that periodically it is good to simply stop “doing” and “be.”

In “How to Comfort the Sick and Dying,” an ex-drug dealer turned yeshiva student, seeks redemption from an unscrupulous past by tending to a dying AIDS patient. In “Meziovsky,” a Jewish man identifies with a Russian immigrant neighbor and finds him a job. And in “The Diviners of Desire: A Modern Fable,” a butcher and the husband of a matchmaker conspire to bring together a young woman and a visiting graduate student. This last has so many echoes of Bernard Malamud’s classic story “The Magic Barrel” that it could be a tribute.

What kind of stories are these? They are well-written, thoughtful, serious, literary stories. Such stories deserve thoughtful, serious readers. I wrote Ms. Leegant, expressing my hope that she has not deserted the short story for the more popular and respected novel form

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some Collections for the 21st Century I Did Not Care For

Several readers were kind enough to suggest collections that I left off my list of 100 short story collections for the 21st century. For that I thank you. The following are brief comments about the collections suggested that I read and did not care for. I felt that I owe it to my readers to tell them why I did not care for these books.

Valentines, Olaf Olafsson.

Each story has roughly the same structure. Shallow characters are introduced by tedious background exposition, and then reveal in endless hollow dialogue that they are caught in a trivial, personal crisis, which is finally unresolved in a conventional “open-ended” image. I think his stories are cluttered with clichés, at least one on each page. Characters are “seasoned travelers.” They keep their feelings on a “tight rein.” But sometimes they “seethe with rage.” They are often “lost for words.” Or their words are “threadbare.” They feel that some words do not “bode well.” They give “sharp glances.” They “strike up a conversation.” They often are “on the verge of tears.” Or they are “moved to tears.” They are always “burying” their face in their hands. They often cannot “put their finger on what is wrong.” But they manage to “keep their cool.” Their marriages are usually “hanging by a thread.” Ultimately, they see that their “life was falling apart” because everything “was built on sand.”

The Whore's Child and Other Stories, Richard Russo.
Russo has said that he revels in the discursive, the digressive, and the episodic. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course--that is, unless you try to write short stories. So what does an old-fashioned Dickensian novelist do when he sits down to write short stories? He writes stories like those in The Whore’s Child. The title story is the kind of set piece about an interesting writing student that every writing teacher must do at some point. In this case it’s an elderly nun who starts her story, “In the convent I was known as the whore’s child.” Of course, there is a mystery of memory here, but it is a simple one that conveniently turns on an easy ambiguity about truth and falsehood.
I think this is a textbook example of what often results when an interesting and entertaining novelist writes short stories: pleasurable, but perfectly ordinary, plot-based stories with a concluding twist, featuring likeable but relatively simple characters whose problems the plots resolve rather neatly. Those who like novels will find these stories completely satisfying. Those who like short stories will like them, but they won’t be haunted by them, and they won’t feel the need to read them again

A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies, John Murray.

Murray’s stories may have a certain contemporary interest, for some of them inform the reader about conditions in African third world countries, and others focus on immigrants coping with cultural displacement. And certainly, if the reader wants to know about the phylogeny of certain insects or the physiology of a brain tumor, it is good to have mini-lectures from an expert. But what is often painfully apparent in these stories--in narrative structure, character creation, thematic development, and prose style—is that they are amateurish and imitative. Nothing reveals the amateurishness of Murray’s fiction more than a comparison of the title story—a long multi-layered construct about a “distinguished older surgeon” who constantly ruminates about his grandfather’s obsession with butterflies while becoming physically impotent and psychically paralyzed by his young wife’s desire for a child—with just about any story of science, history, and human complexity by Andrea Barrett. I thought A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies--in spite of its exotic locales, its displaced immigrants, its tormented scientists and committed physicians, its precise medical detail, and its personal earnestness—was just competent classroom work.

Don’t Cry, Mary Gaitskill

Mary Gaitskill’s stories in this, her third collection, are not clearly delineated narratives; they are more like essayistic descriptions of ensemble groups positioned around one central character’s sense of disengagement and despair. The opening story, “College Town, 1980” focuses on four young people living together in Ann Arbor, Michigan just after the election of Ronald Reagan. To me, it seemed less a story than a set piece about young people who feel victimized, helpless, and trapped in a stagnant situation at a certain transitional point in American society. Much of “The Agonized Face” reads like a personal essay on whether feminists have made girls into sluts who think they have to have sex all the time or whether they have overprotected them into thinking they have been raped when they were just having sex. Various images of Gaitskill’s own persona crop up in the story. For example, when the narrator tells about interviewing a topless dancer, a desiccated blonde with desperate intelligence burning in her eyes, who is big on Hegel and Nietzsche, one is tempted to turn to the jacket cover of the Don’t Cry for the picture of Gaitskill staring out at the reader both defensively and belligerently. Gaitskill’s stories are not your typical chick-lit laments of relationships gone awry. She wants to be taken more seriously than that. However, her focus on unhappy women who cannot seem to find either fulfillment or hope for the future, combined with her didacticism and discursive style, sometimes made her an unpleasant and unrewarding read for me.

The Boat
, Nam Le

This is one of those books that received so much praise that after I read it unimpressed and then read the reviews, I went back and read it again, trying to figure how how my reaction could be so radically different than most of the critics. I am currently reading it again and will post some comments when I feel I can make a fair judgment.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thanks for Recommendations for my List

Thanks to several folks who responded to my list of the 100 short story collections I most enjoyed in the first ten years of the 21st century. I am happy to respond to your suggestions.

One of the books recommended was Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America, which I have read and liked. However, it was published first in 1998, and I was focusing only on those published 2001 to the present. The same goes for Gina Berriault’s Women in Their Beds, published in 1997, but which I still plan to read.

Another reader asked me what I thought about Andre Dubus’s Dancing After Hours. Although that one was also published in the last century (1996), it is one of my favorites. I once wrote a tribute to Dubus for a special collection honoring him. Here is what I think:
The most interesting stories in Dancing After Hours focus on the character of LuAnn, introduced in "Falling in Love," when she meets Ted Briggs, a wounded Viet Nam vet and the two dance delicately around beginning a relationship. In "The Timing of Sin," LuAnn, now married to Ted, discovers just how tenuous marital commitment is when she "almost commits adultery," but is saved because of a mundane, or perhaps spiritual, impediment. Finally, in "Out of the Snow," LuAnn fights off rape by two strangers with such rage that she is astonished at her ferocity. The two longest stories in the collection--"Blessings" and "Dancing in the Dark"--are the two most communal; both are about what gives people character and what holds them together in face of adversity. In this latest collection, his seventh, Andre Dubus' stories are, as always, about hope and faith and union; that is, they are romantic and religious. But only the most callous would call them corny.

I was also asked what I thought about Carol Shields’ Collected Stories. It is on my 100 list as a “favorite.” Here is what I thought about some of the stories:

That many of the central characters in Shields’ stories are artists should alert the reader to the fact that she is using the form to play little literary games about the nature of the imagination. For example, “Invention” begins with typical little Shields’ examinations of seemingly trivial inventions such as the steering wheel muff, but becomes a story about the invention of invention itself, that is, the discovery of how art itself comes into being, when a Greek shepherd boy makes the startling discovery that he can dream by day as well as by night. In “Windows,” a window tax is imposed on the citizenry, making the economy minded board up their sources of light. However, in a classic example of art triumphing over reality, a couple of painters paint a window over their boarded-up one, providing themselves not with real light but with the idea of light, which is even more alluring than light itself, the art window becoming ever better than a real window in its presentation of all that is ideal and desirable in the sensuous world. The only previously unpublished story in the collection is “Segue,” the first chapter of a novel Shields was working on when she died, which her daughter prepared for publication. About a 67-year-old woman who writes a sonnet every fourteen days, the piece stands alone as an independent story about Carol Shield’s fascination with frozen moments of transcendence created within the seeming restrictions of literary form.

Someone asked me what I thought about Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. I liked it and posted a blog entry on it July 8, 2009

Someone also mentioned Jean Thompson’s 1979 collection Gasoline Wars. I am currently finishing her most recent collection Do Not Deny Me, which I like so far, and which is on my list of 100 Favorites. I will try to comment on it when I get the time (so much to read and write!).

Also, I have not forgotten two readers who asked me to comment on Claire Keegan’s Walk the Blue Fields, which I recently read and liked very much and will post on as soon as I can, and James Lasdun’s It’s Beginning to Hurt, which I also just finished reading and liked very much indeed. I will post on it as soon as I have time.

I am working on a couple of publishing projects right now and am unable to post as often as I would like. But hang in there. I appreciate your responding to my list and I am happy to share my reactions to short stories with you.

I will buy it and read it; thanks.
Karma and Other Stories, Rishi Reddi,
Talking to the Enemy, Avner Mandelman
Kate Walbert, Our Kind

(oops! I forgot that one.
Dan Chaon, Among the Missing
I like Dan Chaon’s stories and have read both Fitting Ends and Among the Missing. I just somehow skipped over him.

And thanks to Hannah Tinti for the courtesy of saying she was “honored” to be on my list. If you haven’t read her Animal Crackers, you might enjoy it. Here’s why I did:

This collection appears to have a marketing gimmick—i.e. elephants, snakes, rabbits, giraffes, and bears, oh my!0—but don’t let that put you off. In the title story, the central character works at a zoo and sometimes puts his head under an elephant’s foot. However, the story is really about a man struggling with his wife’s infidelity and his brutal reaction to it. In “Slim’s Last Ride,” a pet rabbit is cruelly beaten and dismembered. But the story is really about a young boy’s trying to cope with his parents’ divorce. In “How to Revitalize the Snake in Your Life,” a pet boa constrictor is secretly served for dinner. The story, however, is really about a woman’s revenge for being dumped by a cheating man. There are lots of animals in Tinti’s stories, but they are not the whole story; they simply serve as a clever and sardonic spin on a number of age-old themes. In fact, the most interesting story—“Home Sweet Home”—hardly features animals at all; it’s a coldly comic tale of infidelity and murder with a number of grotesque images—dead bodies sprinkled with cornflakes, a papier-mâché head of a child’s dead mother. Whereas the silliest story—“Reasonable Terms”—about a bunch of giraffes who go on strike to demand better living conditions--is almost exclusively about animals. Also interesting and less dependent on animals are “Hit Man of the Year,” about the rise and fall of a professional killer; and “Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus”--about a globe-trotting young woman whose wealthy father has her followed by a couple of ineffective detectives. It is Tinti’s slightly tilted slant at reality and her deadpan tongue-in-cheek tone that makes the stories hard to resist—that and all those fascinating animals, of course.

I read it, didn’t care for it;
Valentines. By Olaf Olafsson.
The Whore’s Child and Other Stories by Richard Russo.
A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies. By John Murray
Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
The Boat, Nam Lee

It is this category that is most dicey, but since I admit I did not care for these books, I guess I owe it to my readers to make a brief comment why.

So my next post will be a few comments justifying their exclusion from my List of 100 Favorites

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My 100 Favorite Short Story Collections of the Twenty-First Century

To mark the occasion of my 100th posting on the “Reading the Short Story” blog, I am offering a list of my 100 favorite short story collections (so far) of the twenty-first century. I am not naming the list “The Best” of anything, just a roll-call of collections I have read and, for whatever reason—made me laugh, made me think, made me envious, made me glad to love this form—I responded to as a grateful reader. If you have a favorite not on the list, let me know. I will be happy to include it in one of the following lists: (1) I read it, didn’t care for it; (2) I have it, but haven’t read it yet; (3) I will buy it and read it; thanks. (4) oops! I forgot that one.

A Bit on the Side, William Trevor
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Amy Bloom
A Kind of Flying, Ron Carlson
After the Quake: Stories, Haruki Murakami
All Aunt Hagar’s Children, Edward P. Jones
All Fall Down, Mary Caponegro
All Things, All at Once, Lee K Abbott
Animal Crackers , Hannah Tinti
At the Jim Bridger, Ron Carlson
Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2, Annie Proulx
Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black, Nadine Gordimer
Between Trains, Barry Callaghan
Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, Maile Meloy
But Come Ye Back, Beth Lordan
Call If You Need Me, Raymond Carver
Changing Planes, Ursula K. Le Guin
Cheating at Canasta, William Trevor
Collected Stories, Carol Shields
Damned If I Do, Percival Everett
Dangerous Laughter, Steven Millhauser
Darling? Heidi Jon Schmidt
Day Out of Days, Sam Shepherd
Dictation: A Quartet, Cynthia Ozick
Dream Stuff, David Malouf
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, ZZ Packer
Fascination, William Boyd
Female Troubles, Antonya Nelson
Fine Just the Way It Is, Annie Proulx
Fugue State, Brian Evenson
Georgia Under Water, Heather Sellers
Ghosts of Wyoming, Alyson Hagy
Girl With a Monkey, Leonard Michaels
God’s Gym, John Edgar Wideman
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,
Alice Munro
Honored Guest, Joy Williams
How To Breathe Underwater, Julie Orringer
I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, William Gay
I Sailed with Magellan, Stuart Dybek
I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting With My Daddy,
Ellen Gilchrist
Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, Joan Silber
In Persuasion Nation, George Saunders
It’s Beginning to Hurt, James Lasdun
Little Black Book of Stories, A.S. Byatt
Loot and Other Stories, Nadine Gordimer
Manhattan Monologues, Louis Auchincloss
Matters of Life and Death, Bernard MacLaverty
Miracle Boy and Other Stories, Pinckney Benedict
Mrs. Hempel Chronicles, Sarah Shun-Lien Brynum
My Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales, Robert Antoni
Nice Big American Baby,Judy Budnitz
North of Nowhere, South of Loss, Janette Turner Hospital
Nothing Right, Antonya Nelson
Once the Shore, Paul Yoon
One Hour in Paradise, Joan Leegant
One More Year, Sana Krasikov
Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Danyal Mueenuddin
Our Story Begins, Tobias Wolff
Pastoralia, George Saunders
Rescue Missions, Frederick Busch
Runaway, Alice Munro
The Secret Goldfish, David Means
Servants of the Map, Andrea Barrett
Something for the Journey, Richard Cortez Day
Sonechka, Ludmila Ulitskaya
Ten Little Indians, Sherman Alexie
The Apple’s Bruise, Lisa Glatt
The Collected Stories of Clare Boylan
The Collected Stories of Richard Yates
The Dead Fish Museum, Charles D’Ambrosio
The Development, John Barth
The Dog of the Marriage, Amy Hempel
The Early Stories, John Updike
The Hermit’s Story, Rick Bass
The King in the Tree, Steven Millhauser
The Laws of Evening, Mary Yukari Waters
The Lemon Table, Julian Barnes
The One Marvelous Thing, Rikki Ducornet
The Red Convertible, Louise Erdrich
The Secret Goldfish, David Means
The Smallest People Alive, Keith Banner
The Spot, David Means
The Stories of Alice Adams
The Stories of Mary Gordon
The Teapots Are Out and Other Eccentric
Tales from Ireland, John B Keane
The Turning, Tim Winton
The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro
There a Petal Silently Falls, Choe-Yun
Things That Fall from the Sky, Kevin Brockmeier
Tooth and Claw, T. C. Boyle
Twilight of the Superheroes, Deborah Eisenberg
Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
Walk the Blue Fields, Claire Keegan
What's Come Over You? Marian Thurm
White Wall: Collected Stories, Tatyana Tolstaya
Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work,
Jason Brown
Wild Child, T.C. Boyle
Yesterday’s Weather, Anne Enright
Young Irelanders, Gerard Donovan
Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail, Bobbi Ann Mason