Do you want to read something, but you can’t make it through a novel? Try a short story collection. These are all a book of short stories and/or novellas that are all written by a single writer. You can distinguish a short story collection from a fiction anthology as anthologies contain word by several different authors. When I’m in a reading slump, I pick up a short story collection. If I am finding it hard to concentrate, these collections help me to focus in short bursts.
Multiple short story collections are published each year, but I wanted to focus on a handful that have been p this year or that will be published later this year. Below I have gathered a list of short story collections that have been published in 2023. All of the below titles are owned by the Davenport Public Library. Descriptions have been provided by the publisher and/or author.
The Faraway World: Stories by Patricia Engel
From Patricia Engel, whose novel Infinite Country was a New York Times bestseller and a Reese’s Book Club pick, comes an exquisite collection of ten haunting, award-winning short stories set across the Americas and linked by themes of migration, sacrifice, and moral compromise.
Two Colombian expats meet as strangers on the rainy streets of New York City, both burdened with traumatic pasts. In Cuba, a woman discovers her deceased brother’s bones have been stolen, and the love of her life returns from Ecuador for a one-night visit. A cash-strapped couple hustles in Miami, to life-altering ends.
The Faraway World is a collection of arresting stories from the New York Times bestselling author of Infinite Country, Patricia Engel, “a gifted storyteller whose writing shines even in the darkest corners” (The Washington Post). Intimate and panoramic, these stories bring to life the liminality of regret, the vibrancy of community, and the epic deeds and quiet moments of love.
Call and Response: Stories by Gothataone Moeng
Richly drawn stories about the lives of ordinary families in contemporary Botswana as they navigate relationships, tradition and caretaking in a rapidly changing world.
A young widow adheres to the expectations of wearing mourning clothes for nearly a year, though she’s unsure what the traditions mean or whether she is ready to meet the world without their protection. An older sister returns home from a confusing time in America, only to explain at every turn why she’s left the land of opportunity. A younger sister hides her sexual exploits from her family, while her older brother openly flaunts his infidelity.
The stories collected in Call and Response are strongly anchored in place – in the village of Serowe, where the author is from, and in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana – charting the emotional journeys of women seeking love and opportunity beyond the barriers of custom and circumstance.
Gothataone Moeng is part of a new generation of writers coming out of Africa whose voices are ready to explode onto the literary scene. In the tradition of writers like Chimamanda Adiche and Jhumpa Lahiri, she offers us insight into communities, experiences and landscapes through stories that are cinematic in their sweep, with unforgettable female protagonists.
A Broken People’s Playlist: Stories (from songs) by Chimeka Garricks
A Broken People’s Playlist is set to the soundtrack of life, comprised of twelve music-inspired tales about love, the human condition, micro-moments, and the search for meaning and sometimes, redemption. It is also Chimeka Garricks’s love letter to his native city, Port Harcourt, introducing us to a cast of indelible characters in these loosely interlocked tales.
There is the teenage wannabe-DJ eager to play his first gig even as his family disastrously falls apart—who reappears many years later as an unhappy middle-aged man drunk-calling his ex-wife; a man who throws a living funeral for his dying brother; three friends who ponder penis captivus and one’s peculiar erectile dysfunction; a troubled woman who tries to find her peace-place in the world, helped by a headful of songs and a pot of ginger tea.
Infused with the author’s resonant and evocative storytelling, each page holds “the depth of a novel” (Hari Kunzru); a character, a moment that will—like a favorite song—long linger in the heart and mind.
When Trying to Return Home: Stories by Jennifer Maritza McCauley
A dazzling debut collection spanning a century of Black American and Afro-Latino life in Puerto Rico, Pittsburgh, Louisiana, Miami, and beyond—and an evocative meditation on belonging, the meaning of home, and how we secure freedom on our own terms
Profoundly moving and powerful, the stories in When Trying to Return Home dig deeply into the question of belonging. A young woman is torn between overwhelming love for her mother and the need to break free from her damaging influence during a desperate and disastrous attempt to rescue her brother from foster care. A man, his wife, and his mistress each confront the borders separating love and hate, obligation and longing, on the eve of a flight to San Juan. A college student grapples with the space between chivalry and machismo in a tense encounter involving a nun. And in 1930s Louisiana, a woman attempting to find a place to call her own chances upon an old friend at a bar and must reckon with her troubled past.
Forming a web of desires and consequences that span generations, McCauley’s Black American and Afro–Puerto Rican characters remind us that these voices have always been here, occupying the very center of American life—even if we haven’t always been willing to listen.
Butter: Novellas, Stories, and Fragments by Gayl Jones
Gayl Jones, who was first edited by Toni Morrison, has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century and was recently a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. This new collection of short fiction is only the second in her rich career, and one that displays her strengths in the genre in many facets. Opening with two novella-length works, “Butter” and “Sophia,” this collection features Jones’s legendary talents in a range of settings and styles, from the hyper-realist to the mystical, in intricate multi-part stories, in more traditional forms, and even in short fragments.
Her narrators are women and men, Black, Brown, Indigenous; her settings are historical and contemporary, in South America, Mexico and the US; her themes center on complex identities, unorthodox longings and aspirations. She writes about spies, photographers, playground designers, cartoonists, and baristas, about workers and revolutionaries, about environmentalism, feminism, poetry, film and love, but above all about our multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial society.
Old Babes in the Wood: Stories by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood has established herself as one of the most visionary and canonical authors in the world. This collection of fifteen extraordinary stories—some of which have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine—explore the full warp and weft of experience, speaking to our unique times with Atwood’s characteristic insight, wit and intellect.
The two intrepid sisters of the title story grapple with loss and memory on a perfect summer evening; “Impatient Griselda” explores alienation and miscommunication with a fresh twist on a folkloric classic; and “My Evil Mother” touches on the fantastical, examining a mother-daughter relationship in which the mother purports to be a witch. At the heart of the collection are seven extraordinary stories that follow a married couple across the decades, the moments big and small that make up a long life of uncommon love—and what comes after.
Have you read any short story collections? Let us know in the comments.