“The Burglar”
by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
Originally published in the April 11, 2016 issue of The New Yorer.
Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker website.

April 11, 2016My apologies for getting this posted so late this week. I came down with bronchitis, and every time I’d think about getting up and typing this I’d just kind of shut down again. But here we are with a story from one of The New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40” authors, one who hasn’t published much of anything since that honor was bestowed upon her in June 2010. The author of two books I quite admire — 2004’s Madeleine Is Sleeping and 2008’s Ms. Hempel Chronicles — I have not loved her short stories, but I’m glad to see another piece by her after a lengthy silence, and I hope that she’s got some more coming.

Please comment away below!

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By |2016-04-08T12:30:42-04:00April 8th, 2016|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum|6 Comments


  1. Greg April 14, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    I hope your battle with bronchitis is going well Trevor!

    Also, I found this story weak. The experiment with the different points of view didn’t do it for me. The writing was also very ordinary. Nevertheless, the husband’s torn emotional plight of writing for an entertainment show was interesting, and hopefully this situation will be further developed into its own short story by another writer.

  2. Ken April 23, 2016 at 3:28 am

    I’m surprised nobody commented on this story. I liked the experimental structure and even the fiction becoming real bit worked for me. I was pleased to read something about race that dealt relatively lightly with the tensions of even post-Obama America. I also found it suspenseful. The writing struck me as plain yet it managed to slow down time effectively and its plainness worked well as the structure was already plenty “fancy.”

  3. Greg April 24, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    It’s good to see Ken that you enjoyed this uniquely told story!

    Also, your analysis reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing advice to his daughter:

    “…find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter – as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.”

  4. Pauline April 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Just read this…or at least tried to read it. While, I, too, liked the dilemma the writer/husband faced in the beginning, I couldn’t get much past that. Weak writing, as Greg said, far too slow-moving…I gave up, a rarity with New Yorker fiction, no matter how sub-par it can occasionally be. On to the April 15th issue…!

  5. Greg May 1, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Thanks Pauline for your acknowledgment, and I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the Colin Barrett story!

  6. Dennis Lang October 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Hey Greg–Great quote from F. Scott! Recalls for me a journalism prof. from some years ago who told us: “Tell me something I wouldn’t know unless you tell it, as only you can.” The mode of expression becomes instrumental to what’s being expressed.

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