Give Short Fiction A Chance! – 12 Diverse Short Story Collections And Anthologies That Will Win You Over

Short Fiction is underappreciated in literary circles and especially in the book blogging community. Many readers are averse to reading short story collections or anthologies because they prefer the continuous, flowing narrative that novels offer. Some are even hesitant to read novellas! Often, reviews for novellas will cite the work’s short length as a downside (I have down this before as well), which is simply unfair to writers of short fiction.

Readers must try to overcome their biases when reading short fiction to fully enjoy this style of writing. Sometimes that means embracing the fact that a story will end after ten (or fewer) pages and you will be left wanting to learn more about the characters or the exciting events you just saw unfold. Once a story is over, you must be ready to switch gears and jump into a story that may be wildly different from the previous one. If you go in with the right mentality and understand the nature of short fiction, jumping from story to story can be rewarding and intellectually stimulating. It will certainly keep you on your toes and demand your attention!

It took me a while to fully appreciate short fiction, but once I realized that many marginalized authors are doing amazing work in anthologies and short story collections, I knew I had to support their endeavors. I then quickly fell in love with short fiction and never turn down a recommendation simply because it’s a short story collection or anthology. In fact, I’m more likely to pay attention to it because often, short fiction is how marginalized authors get their foot in the literary world and my support truly matters.

If you’re a reader who’s averse to reading short fiction, take my example and be assured that there are fantastic works out there waiting to be discovered.

To get started, consider this list of 12 short story collections and anthologies. This is clearly not an exhaustive list, but simply one that contains books I have personally read and enjoyed, as well some that have been praised and vouched for.

 Give short fiction a chance!


Diverse Short Story Collections And Anthologies 

 

Deceit And Other Possibilities – by Vanessa Hua

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Ten short stories with dazzling variety about the ways in which people deceive themselves and others. There are also stories that explore immigrant experiences and the sense of cultural and physical displacement that comes with that — all written in an eloquent and sophisticated style that makes reading one more page all the more enticing.

Read my review

 

 

Brick Walls: Tales Of Hope & Courage From Pakistan – by Saadia Faruqi

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Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani author and activist now living in America. In this collection, she tells essential stories about Pakistan’s people that reveal their strengths and flaws, their hopes, fears, and aspirations with the nuance and variety that is not often seen in literature. 

Read my review

 

 

 

Barefoot Dogs – by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

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A stunning collection of interlinked stories about a wealthy Mexican family who flee Mexico after the grisly death of their family’s patriarch.  The gorgeous writing and unique voice will draw you in; the fascinating characters will keep you reading.

Read my review

 

 

 

Lez Talk: A Collection Of Black Lesbian Short Fiction – Edited by S. Andrea Allen

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An essential addition to any collection of Queer literature and an overall fantastic addition to anyone’s library. The stories in this anthology are strikingly diverse — readers will find speculative fiction, magical realism, contemporary stories, romance, and more. There’s something here for everyone.

Read my review

 

 

Love Beyond Body, Space, And Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology – Edited by Hope Nicholson

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The stories of LGBT Indigenous people are rare in the publishing industry. All the more reason to read this gorgeous anthology about space, time travel, aliens, and love! Please support this anthology to send a clear message to the world that we need more stories like these to be published and read widely.

Buy here!

 

 

Interpreter Of Maladies – by Jhumpa Lahiri

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A list of short stories would not be complete without Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize winning Interpreter Of Maladies, a thoughtful and poignant exploration of Indian and Indian-American identity, loss, and cultural transition.

Read my review

 

 

 

Falling In Love With Hominids – by Nalo Hopkinson

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Fans of Fantasy and Science-Fiction must read Nalo Hopkinson’s World Fantasy Award winning short story collection. The stories are fascinatingly complex and imaginative. Some are only a couple of pages long, others are 20 pages, but they all demonstrate Hopkinson’s gift for telling a memorable tale. 

Read my review

 

 

 

Everything Begins And Ends At The Kentucky Club – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Benjamin Alire Sáenz became famous for writing Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe, but he his a prolific writer of both Adult and YA fiction. This collection expertly demonstrates Sáenz’s gift for writing poignant stories that will both grip you and break your heart.

Read my review

 

 

Fairytales For Lost Children – by Diriye Osman

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A fearless collection of stories about gay, lesbian, and transgender Somalis that we don’t often see in fiction. It’s important that we seek non-western narratives to balance out the perspectives and experiences we see in our literature. Fairyatales For Lost Children is a must-read for those who want to build a library of Queer literature that is inclusive and intersectional.

Read my review

 

 

In The Country – by Mia Alvar

Exciting and unforgettable stories about the Filipino diaspora that take readers across the world in a literary journey and explore the universal themes of loss and displacement. In The Country is a powerful and unmissable debut collection that augers big things for Alvar’s literary future.

 

 

 

Islands Of Decolonial Love – by LeAnne Simpson

In this collection, writer and activist LeAnne Simpson explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous peoples through short stories, poems, and audio (available in the author’s website) in a bold and unique way that aims to deconstruct colonial spaces in literature.

 

 

 

 

Latin@ Rising: An Anthology Of Latin@ Science Fiction And Fantasy – Edited by Matthew David Goodwin

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This anthology won’t officially release until January 18th, 2017, but it’s certainly one all fans of speculative fiction should keep their eyes on. It features stories by 23 Latinx authors, with big names such as Junot Diaz, Ana Castillo, and Daniel Jose Older. Please show your support and Preorder here! The world needs more anthologies like Latin@ Rising.

Read a guest post by Matthew David Goodwin

 

 

Actually…here are a few more for good measure!

 

The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Woman Hollering Creek And Other Stories – by Sandra Cisneros

This is How You Lose Her AND Drown – by Junot Diaz 


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59 thoughts on “Give Short Fiction A Chance! – 12 Diverse Short Story Collections And Anthologies That Will Win You Over

  1. I have only read a few of these but several look good! I love retold tales, does Fairytales for Lost Children incorporate retold tales or is that just the title? And Adichie is always wonderful.

    I have a recommendation for you – this is an incredibly disturbing but well-written and important collection: Say You’re One of Them by Nigerian author Uwen Akpan. I plan to review it but am having difficulty writing the review. The entire book is stories of African children in realistic but dire conditions. You can read one short story online, to see if you would be able to stomach the entire book. Even though I had some very visceral reactions to reading this, I do feel that every adult should read it.

    1. There are no actual fairytales or retellings in Fairytales For Lost Children. That’s just the name of one of the stories in the collection, which seems to have given the book its name.

      Do let me know when your review for Say You’re One Of Them is published. I am not one to shy away from reading a difficult book. It sounds like an incredibly important read, so I’m all for it.

  2. I love, love, love short story collections and anthologies. It’s such a shame that not that many people enjoy reading them or review them. In the Country by Mia Alvar is such a powerful collection. I was enjoying it when I read it and then there was a couple stories that just destroyed me out of nowhere. It’s been months since I read it and I still think about those stories.

    If anyone is looking for other recommendations for short stories by diverse authors, I recommend:
    – Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote
    – Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire edited by Amber Dawn
    – Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements edited by Adrienne Maree Brown
    – What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
    – Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction edited by Grace L. Dillon
    – Gender Failure by Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote
    – Are We Having Fun Yet? – American Indian Fantasy Stories by William Sanders.

    1. Thank you so much for these recommendations! I haven’t read nearly enough to create a list that does justice to the amount of fantastic short fiction available out there. I will look these books up and see which ones I should add to my 2017 TBR. 🙂

      1. I forgot to add one! Also check out So Long, Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan. It’s really good and introduced me to a number of authors I love, such as Eden Robinson, Celu Amberstone and Andrea Hairston.

      1. You’re welcome. It’s older (I read it years ago), but some of the stories are anthologized quite a bit. At least one of her stories can be found on the New Yorker site.

  3. Great post Naz. I’ll admit I haven’t read much short fiction myself. I’m not a huge fan of novellas or anthologies, but I’ve recently read some that I’ve really enjoyed so I think it’s something I may have to give another chance. Plus I want to read more diversely next year so I’ll definitely be adding some of these to my to-read list for 2017! 😀

    1. Short fiction isn’t for everyone, but I think more readers should give it an earnest attempt before totally giving up on it.
      Oh, I’m so glad to hear you want to read more diverse books next year, Beth!! You’ve made me happy today. If you ever need a specific recommendation, let me know and I’ll help you find your new favorite books. 🙂

      1. Oh no, not for everyone, but I think I was a little hasty in deciding it wasn’t for me because I’ve really enjoyed the anthologies I’ve read so far.
        It’s something I’ve been meaning to do, and actually that’s great, if I need any recommendations I will definitely come your way! Do you have any good YA ones I can get started with?

  4. I am one of those non-readers of short fiction. Usually, at any rate. I’ve read novellas for series I love before. And I’m currently reading Fairytales for Lost Children 😀

    I am one of those people that want the depth and continuing and ALL THE WORDS. I can immediately think of several reasons to read short stories, novellas, anthologies, and yet I have to go out of my way to pick one up.

    I’m wondering if part of it is that reading is seen as an elitist habit in my experience. It’s the big books that are impressive (“You read all that?!?”), school rewards more the longer harder books, etc.Plus it takes more time that’s not paid (unless you’re one of those famous rich authors) than other stories. That’s a lot to sink into one basket, hoping it works in the public sphere.

    But I’ll go do my introspection elsewhere. I just wanted to say I agree with you on short stories and I’m working to improve myself as well.

    1. Short story collections and anthologies tend to be rather short, unsually under 200 pages. To me that’s a good thing because you’ll finish it quickly and move on to the next book! haha But yes, it’s also important that the stories are able to leave a lasting impression despite how brief they may be.
      It’s great to hear you say you’re trying to read more short fiction. The attempt is what matters! If in the end you feel that short stories aren’t for you, you will at least have given it an earnest shot. Too often, readers will say they don’t like short fiction without really giving it a chance.

  5. I’m definitely trying to add more anthologies to my reading list for 2017 – I’ve already got my first one in PDF and should have the physical copy by the beginning of the year! I also need to read most of these still!

  6. Short fiction is my favorite for discovering new authors to watch. It can be so much more experimental because of the size–I really think some of the best and most innovative work is being done in short stories and novellas! I ADORE Love Beyond (hopefully will have a review on it out within the next few weeks!). Putting Interpreter of Maladies and Latin@ Rising on my list for sure. There’s some A+ diverse SFF short stories in the Lightspeed Magazine’s PoC Destroy [Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror] issues!

  7. Wonderful & much appreciated post Naz! I’ve had Jhumpa Lahiri’s book on my TBR for far too long with no clue that it was a short story collection. I love short stories & Novellas and you have compiled such a diverse list I am look forward to using as a starting point. Deceit and Other Possibilities keeps calling my attention so I’ve added it to my TBR. Saving the best for last…BENJAMIN ALIRÉ SAENZ!!! He had a short story collection?!?!? 😱😱😱 I need! Lol 🤗🤗🤗 Thank you for this insightful post 🙃🙂🙃

    1. Benjamin Alire Saenz can do no wrong!! I’ve loved every book of his I’ve read and do plan to collect and read them all at some point. His short story collection is FANTASTIC. If you want to read a collection you’ll love, start with his! And yes, Deceit And Other Possibilities is so good. Glad I brought it to your attention. 🙂

  8. Fantastic list, Naz!! I love short fiction, but struggle with collections at times because I want to give each stories as much focus and attention as a novel. So either I’m super slow or race through them and feel guilty 😀 But I’m trying to do the one story a day thing at the moment, working so far 🙂 I got Love on kindle finally and the Power & Magic ebook antho arrived for Xmas, yay! 2017 will absolutely be a short fiction year for me.

  9. I love short stories! You’ve killed my TBR again btw.

    I’ve actually read This Is How You Lose Her, but I wasn’t overly fond of it – it felt quite dismissive of women in places. It was ok over all though.

  10. I have a soft spot for unique titles, so The Islands of Decolonial Love and Barefoot Dogs caught my eye. I’m currently resisting re-reading Falling in Love with Hominids. I haven’t read The Interpreter of Maladies but I have read (and loved) Lahiri’s other short story collection – Unaccustomed Earth.

  11. This was such a great post Naz! I think that I subconciously ignore anthologies because I always have so many other books to read but I absolutely loved An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao though so I really should pick up some more. Thanks for the recs!

  12. Brilliant post, Naz!! Short stories normally always confuse me, haha, but I love reading them!! Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time sounds amazing. I’m definitely adding that to my TBR. I already have Deceit And Other Possibilities, Lez Talk and The Thing Around Your Neck! Hopefully I can get to those soon.

    1. The Love Beyond Anthology is so wonderful. Hope you don’t have trouble finding it in Australia as an ebook. I believe it was crowdfunded, so it doesn’t have the backing of a traditionally published book. It’s so worth it, though! <3

  13. Thank you for this post, Naz! I absolutely love short fiction, especially anthologies which are themed or have interconnected stories. Thank you for sharing your recommendations, I definitely have my eyes on Deceit and Other Possibilities and Interpreter of Maladies for my next book haul. I also think you would love An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao (interconnected short stories centering on the India-Pakistan partition) and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu (SFF stories with heavy influence by Chinese folklore) 😀

  14. I personally love anthologies, especially ones by a huge variety of authors. I like getting a little taster of their writing style without committing to their full anthology/novel. Irenosen Okojie is just one fantastic author that I found through anthologies this year!

    I’ve not heard of some of these, so thanks!! Yet more books to add to TBR mountain 😀

    1. Irenosen Okojie wrote The Butterfly Fish, right? I’ve wanted to read that book for a while!
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂 How big is your TBR mountain? You’ve been reading and reviewing lots of books recently, so you’re making great progress climbing it!

      1. Yup, and also Speak Gigantular, which is the short story collection I read 🙂
        LOL I’ve just discovered kindle deals/was spoiled at Christmas so I’ve got quite a lot to read. But thanks 🙂

  15. I struggle so much with short fiction, especially in short story form. All the same I do plan to read Love Beyon Body, Space and Time as part of my ingenious authors project in 2017.

  16. My bookish resolution for 2017 is to read one short stories collection per month. These recommendations are wonderful. Bless you and keep on fighting the good fight, please 🙂

    Now hold on while I crash the website of my favorite online bookstore and call my landlord for more bookcases…

  17. This list is great! I recently found a passion for essays, so perhaps I’ll also have a passion for short story collections? The tricky part is that all the essays I’ve been reading are non-fiction. I’ll have to pick one of these and see how my love of the short form transfers.

    Thanks for sharing, Naz!

  18. I’m coming to find out that sometimes short stories are just the thing. And it’s nice to have a few trusted lists to refer to for some inspiration! 🙂
    Interestingly, I have discovered that I really love novellas. Maybe not as much as novels… but almost!

  19. I feel like I saw this late, but I just wanted to thank you for highlighting short story anthologies! Especially Deceit and Other Possibilities, which sounds exactly up my alley with its focus on immigrant experiences.

    When I started creative writing, short story was the first form that I fell hard for. So seeing your post was exciting! Are you familiar with Diverse Energies? It’s a short anthology of diverse YA dystopia, including authors like Ellen Oh and Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s breathless.

  20. I’ve had that Nalo Hopkinson book on my TBR for a while now. I’ve purchased some short fic anthologies but, as you’ve said above, it’s hard to make myself want to read them because I love a continuous story. Essays are much easier for me to pop in n out of so I’m quicker to read an essay collection rather than a short story one.

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