While I was on holiday, they announced the shortlist for this year’s Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Here is the list:
- Young Skins, by Colin Barrett
- All the Rage, by A.L. Kennedy
- Redeployment, by Phil Klay
- Leaving the Sea, by Ben Marcus
- Bark, by Lorrie Moore
- The Isle of Youth, by Laura Van Den Berg
While I have read (and we’ve covered) some of the stories in Moore’s and Marcus’s collections, I have not read any of these. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
‘The Isle of Youth’ I liked a lot when I read it, though I’ve largely forgotten it!
‘Bark’ I didn’t enjoy at all – it’s only the second of Lorrie Moore’s books I’ve read (the other being ‘The Gate at the Stairs’) and I fail to see what all the fuss is about – the stories all read to me like a sitcom that has long passed its best. There were a couple of stories that I thought were okay and perhaps had something worthwhile to say, but the unengaging characters, tedious (and bad) one-liners and the generally flippant tone meant I found it hard to maintain much interest.
‘Redeployment’ on the other hand is the best collection I’ve read this year: given the limited theme (marines serving in Iraq) I was impressed by the diversity of approach, subject and voice. They’re clever and thought-provoking and often moving; not only did I find it a superb book, I felt like it was an important one too.
Fantastic to see short story collections from completely (to me anyway) unbeknownst writers (half the list) getting great buzz.
I second what David said about Redployment. One story after another is unbelievably strong and so different from what came before -so diverse, as David said. It’s really worth putting down whatever you’re reading now and getting a copy.
Eh, Bark was ok but not really that great. I wasn’t looking forward to the next story as I was going through, I’ll put it that way.
I’m putting the rest of these on my list! I love, love, love short stories. I can’t get enough.
Incidentally, I found the longlist this year particularly odd. The ‘longlist’ basically is a list of every eligible title that was submitted – each year there are books missing that I’ve thought really ought to be there, but this year there are loads missing – where for instance are Andrea Barrett, Russell Banks, Tom Barbash, David James Poissant, Francesca Marciano, Kyle Minor, Claire Battershill, Joyce Carol Oates or Peter Orner, to name just a few who published collections in the eligible period which to my mind ought to have been contenders? Random House (US) and its various imprints don’t seem to have submitted anything (‘Bark’ is listed as Granta/Knopf and I’m guessing it was Granta who submitted it), nor Ecco, nor Little, Brown…
Thanks for this list, David – I’ve just put some of these on hold at my local library.
I would also add Rebecca Lee’s ‘Bobcat and Other Stories’ as worthy of consideration.
Incidentally, when I was checking that book out the librarian was pleased. She had had to defend buying another short story collection by a little-known writer in the face of the belief, expressed by other of the librarians, that no one reads short story collections anymore.
juliemcl: I think ‘Bobcat’ was longlisted last year. I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of it – I just couldn’t connect with its world of academia – but well done to your librarian for fighting the corner of short stories. I’ve only really become converted to them in the past few years but now get through four or five collections a month, and absolutely love them.