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Award-winning and best-selling author Junot Díaz guest edits this year’s The Best American Short Stories, the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction. Award-winning and best-selling author Junot Díaz guest edits this year’s The Best American Short Stories, the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction.


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Award-winning and best-selling author Junot Díaz guest edits this year’s The Best American Short Stories, the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction. Award-winning and best-selling author Junot Díaz guest edits this year’s The Best American Short Stories, the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction.

30 review for The Best American Short Stories 2016

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Rating anthologies like this seems a bit arbitrary to me because in any group there are going to be stories you like and stories you don't. However, as a whole I really enjoyed reading this collection, and there are some notable stories that definitely made it worthwhile. Only one story (the last one, funnily enough) was too cumbersome to finish—though it's absolutely a personal preference situation in that I didn't like the writing style whatsoever. Highlights from the anthology: • Andrea Barrett Rating anthologies like this seems a bit arbitrary to me because in any group there are going to be stories you like and stories you don't. However, as a whole I really enjoyed reading this collection, and there are some notable stories that definitely made it worthwhile. Only one story (the last one, funnily enough) was too cumbersome to finish—though it's absolutely a personal preference situation in that I didn't like the writing style whatsoever. Highlights from the anthology: • Andrea Barrett's Wonders of the Shore • Ted Chiang's The Great Silence • Louise Erdrich's The Flower • Meron Hadero's The Suitcase • Ben Marcus's Cold Little Bird • Daniel J. O'Malley's Bridge • Karen Russell's The Prospectors

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Two great stories here, The Flower by Louise Erdrich - what a fabulous style, must get more of her - and Cold Little Bird by Ben Marcus - he nearly makes up for the horrible Flame Alphabet novel I tried to read and failed. Here he takes the idea of the weird unloveable kid - we have met them before in The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (very bad) and of course We Need to Talk About The Weirdo by Lionel Shriver (not so good) - but this time it's done right and wow, I needed another 50 pages of that Two great stories here, The Flower by Louise Erdrich - what a fabulous style, must get more of her - and Cold Little Bird by Ben Marcus - he nearly makes up for the horrible Flame Alphabet novel I tried to read and failed. Here he takes the idea of the weird unloveable kid - we have met them before in The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (very bad) and of course We Need to Talk About The Weirdo by Lionel Shriver (not so good) - but this time it's done right and wow, I needed another 50 pages of that one, but cruel Ben Marcus left me dangling. Otherwise as usual, alas, too many stories that people who don't like short stories are going to jump on say see, that's why I don't like short stories, they're these strange little frangments that start anywhere and go nowhere.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    The Best American Short Stories 2016 doesn't exactly land a hit with every single story, but makes up for the few duds with superb variety. I'll be honest: I picked this one up because I love Junot Diaz and his name emblazoned on a cover is enough to sell me just about anything. If you could imagine a fetid sack of meat which bore Diaz's endorsement, you'd find me carrying to the checkout. In any case, I've been trying to read more short stories, and you'd think it'd be hard to go wrong with a be The Best American Short Stories 2016 doesn't exactly land a hit with every single story, but makes up for the few duds with superb variety. I'll be honest: I picked this one up because I love Junot Diaz and his name emblazoned on a cover is enough to sell me just about anything. If you could imagine a fetid sack of meat which bore Diaz's endorsement, you'd find me carrying to the checkout. In any case, I've been trying to read more short stories, and you'd think it'd be hard to go wrong with a best-of compilation. In many ways, this anthology highlights some really keen stories, while others fell flat or were outright obnoxious to my sensibilities. The worst story of the bunch is a stream of consciousness slog that I had to shy away from 10 pages in. The rest of the ones that didn't tickle my fancy at least had some interesting writing or compelling ideas. Another reason that I decided to go with this collection was that it boasted a bevy of authors that I'd been meaning to get around to, but just hadn't made the commitment to work through one of their full-length novels. The collection has a great opener from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, that will definitely put me over the edge into picking up Americanah. Lauren Groff's story was disappointing in some ways, but enjoyable in others. This was also my first exposure to critical darling Ted Chiang (outside of the adaptation, Arrival) and it made me question why I had left him sidelined for so long. There were also plenty of discoveries. Karen Russell's The Prospectors stands out as possibly my favourite story in the collection and introduced me to an author I would have otherwise never known. Another thing about the collection, which explains the long read time, was that I liked to give each story a bit of room to breathe. I read a few of the stories back-to-back and the effect ended up being pretty jarring due to the radically different styles of the authors showcased. Diaz opens with a great essay comparing the novel to Jaime Lannister, while the short story is more like Tyrion Lannister, a perpetual dark horse. He also goes on to extol the virtues of the short story as a distinctly different piece of machinery than its long-form brother. It was a nice introduction to a collection that challenged frequently: short stories are just not as easy. I'll definitely be returning to this series next year! I'd recommend this to anyone looking to expand their literary horizons and test out some of Diaz's favourites.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Can we please, please just have Junot Díaz edit these things from now on? Some statistics for your consideration: 65% people of color; 65% women; 90% stories that I found to be worth reading; all of which are statistics that compare favorably to every previous edition of the Best American Short Stories. And a solid majority were more than merely worthy, but very-good-to-excellent. Which, excuse me, is what I once naively hoped for when an anthology has the word "Best" in its title. Particularly outst Can we please, please just have Junot Díaz edit these things from now on? Some statistics for your consideration: 65% people of color; 65% women; 90% stories that I found to be worth reading; all of which are statistics that compare favorably to every previous edition of the Best American Short Stories. And a solid majority were more than merely worthy, but very-good-to-excellent. Which, excuse me, is what I once naively hoped for when an anthology has the word "Best" in its title. Particularly outstanding are the pieces by Ted Chiang, Louise Erdrich, and Meron Hadero.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Even BASS, as much as I love it, can't rehabilitate 2016, but Junot Díaz succeeds in giving us a much-needed bright spot. This marks my tenth year of buying Best American Short Stories (yes, if you do the math on that, you can figure out what compelled geeky college-me to pick it up that first year), so I was feeling appropriately sentimental, but I can say with confidence that this would be a great place to pick the series up for the first time. Díaz provides a volume with a great global sensib Even BASS, as much as I love it, can't rehabilitate 2016, but Junot Díaz succeeds in giving us a much-needed bright spot. This marks my tenth year of buying Best American Short Stories (yes, if you do the math on that, you can figure out what compelled geeky college-me to pick it up that first year), so I was feeling appropriately sentimental, but I can say with confidence that this would be a great place to pick the series up for the first time. Díaz provides a volume with a great global sensibility, a sharp attention to the faults and foibles of interpersonal relationships, and an openness to genre. Nearly every story here was a winner for me. Some of my favorites include: "Apollo," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about desire, jealousy, and pink-eye in middle-class Nigeria, with a masterful and appropriately melancholy retrospective look at childhood. The intensity of the narrator's emotion here is clear--the speed with which his emotions crystallize, the significance he lends to small but fraught moments--and the tragedy comes out of that. Children make their emotions into the whole world, and that's a dangerous thing, especially when they've been raised to expect servants to be there purely to serve. There are larger political points here about the way people in positions of relative power and safety act out their hurt feelings with grave consequences, but Adichie touches on that only lightly, and the story works all the better for it. "Wonders of the Shore," by Andrea Barrett, where two naturalists at the turn of the century (one the darling of that sliver of the scientific community, at least in the days when it still welcomed and championed women, the other her more ordinary but dogged and passionate friend) end up in a slightly tangled social context while staying out at the shore. Like "Apollo," there's a lot here about desire, jealousy, and social position, and like Adichie, Barrett navigates it expertly. But the thrust here is somewhat more optimistic--this isn't the small turning point of a tragedy but rather a glimpse into a small pocket of time in a long life. "The Great Silence," by Ted Chiang. Chiang is one of my favorite science fiction writers, and this short take on the passing of parrots--an "alien" species that can communicate with us, and that here proves wistful about how we look out to the stars and listen while ignoring things closer to home--is beautifully-written and moving. The last line is a genuine tearjerker. "Cold Little Bird," by Ben Marcus. This was probably my favorite of the year--a chilling, quasi-horror story that's all the creepier for being told strictly as realism, with no solution or even resolution offered by the end. It's about parents who one day, very abruptly, have their formerly-affectionate ten-year-old son turn to them and say that he doesn't love them anymore, and, past that, it's about what happens when he sticks rigorously to that position. He stops tolerating their touch, he barely acknowledges their questions, he's polite but never warm, and his interests begin to veer towards the disturbing (especially for his father). Loved it. "The Politics of the Quotidian," by Caille Millner. Some of the best literary takes on academe I've seen in the last few years have been about people who feel drawn towards the field but nonetheless systematically excluded from it, and Millner takes that topic on gracefully and achingly, and almost with the same contained sense of horror of "Cold Little Bird." It's about navigating a hostile world--and waking up into one, almost, as the protagonist first faces down an openly rude and disrespectful student and, in seeking consolation after that, keeps running into more and more evidence of what's been there all along. (There's another light genre touch here with the way the rude student has or hasn't dropped her class, and it adds to the slight surrealism and the destabilization.) The best praise I can think of for the whole collection is that looking at the table of contents again to pull the titles of my favorites made me smile. There are plenty of authors here who are new to me whose work I'll now be actively seeking out. Onward to The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    The title does not match the content

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shaelin Bishop

    Highlights: -"Apollo" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -"Garments" by Tahima Anam -"The Letician Age" by Yalitza Ferreras -"The Suitcase" by Meron Hadero -"Pat + Sam" by Lisa Ko -"Cold Little Bird" by Ben Marcus -"The Prospectors" by Karen Russell -"On This Side" by Yuko Sakata Highlights: -"Apollo" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -"Garments" by Tahima Anam -"The Letician Age" by Yalitza Ferreras -"The Suitcase" by Meron Hadero -"Pat + Sam" by Lisa Ko -"Cold Little Bird" by Ben Marcus -"The Prospectors" by Karen Russell -"On This Side" by Yuko Sakata

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anne Earney

    Bought this one because one of my co-workers relatives (Daniel J. O'Malley) had a story, "Bridge," here. This turned out to be one of my favorites, along with Ted Chiang's "The Great Silence," Louise Erdrich's "The Flower," Meron Hadero's "The Suitcase," and John Edgar Wideman's "Williamsburg Bridge." Karen Russell's story, "The Prospectors," had all the elements of one I should love (ghosts, adventure, love) but it left me flat, and feeling that way left me irritated, so it gets a mention for af Bought this one because one of my co-workers relatives (Daniel J. O'Malley) had a story, "Bridge," here. This turned out to be one of my favorites, along with Ted Chiang's "The Great Silence," Louise Erdrich's "The Flower," Meron Hadero's "The Suitcase," and John Edgar Wideman's "Williamsburg Bridge." Karen Russell's story, "The Prospectors," had all the elements of one I should love (ghosts, adventure, love) but it left me flat, and feeling that way left me irritated, so it gets a mention for affecting me, although not in a way I enjoyed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    God but did I loathe some of these stories. I had the distinct feeling that many of the authors felt nothing but contempt for their readers. Top 5: Apollo by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The way love can so easily turn to vengeance. The Great Silence by Ted Chiang - A reflection on the irony of humankind seeking life in the stars while destroying the rich life we have on earth. The Flower by Louise Erdrich - How actions to escape terrible situations can haunt us for years to come. Magical realism? Trea God but did I loathe some of these stories. I had the distinct feeling that many of the authors felt nothing but contempt for their readers. Top 5: Apollo by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The way love can so easily turn to vengeance. The Great Silence by Ted Chiang - A reflection on the irony of humankind seeking life in the stars while destroying the rich life we have on earth. The Flower by Louise Erdrich - How actions to escape terrible situations can haunt us for years to come. Magical realism? Treasure State by Smith Henderson - The blank, meaningless disappointment of realizing you are stronger than the source of your childhood fears. On This Side by Yuko Sakata - Living with the consequences of a terrible action years before. Bottom 5: The Bears by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum - What a disappointing end. For the God of Love, for the Love of God by Lauren Groff - Everyone here was terrible. The OTT perspective of the last character came out of nowhere. Pat + Sam by Lisa Ko - Boring, meaningless. Justice for Pat. Gifted by Sharon Solwitz - God I hated the main here. Williamsburg Bridge by John Edgar Wideman - A complete slog.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    I always look forward to the publication of the year's "Best American Short Stories." The diversity exposes me to writers I might not ordinarily read, updates me on current work by long time favorites, and introduces me to beginning writers. If I don't love all the collection's stories, equally, or as this year, read some stories that left me unsatisfied or disappointed, well that's a small price to pay for such a wonderful reading experience. My favorites from this year's collection. "Gifted" i I always look forward to the publication of the year's "Best American Short Stories." The diversity exposes me to writers I might not ordinarily read, updates me on current work by long time favorites, and introduces me to beginning writers. If I don't love all the collection's stories, equally, or as this year, read some stories that left me unsatisfied or disappointed, well that's a small price to pay for such a wonderful reading experience. My favorites from this year's collection. "Gifted" is narrated by a woman who acknowledges that her professional success, travel, happy marriage, two darling boys, life adventures and good looks make her the envy of others, that she has the gifted life. Then she jolts us with an decidedly unenviable event, the discovery that one of her sons has a tumor, and the story shifts from telling of a gifted life to heartbreaking pages of grief and courage. "Ravalushan" writes about a revolution in an African country from the perspective of a small village. The focus is how the revolution, which comes across as a somewhat unknown mysterious force, affects the village and the people in it. "Wonders of the Shore" is set in the late 1800s and features a high school teacher who takes summer vacations with a well known naturalist/writer to do research from an Atlantic coastal island resort. The naturalist is somewhat of a social climber within an elite that congregates at the resort while the teacher, bored with some of the stilted social conventions is eventually left out but finds deeper friendships with the island's artists. The last pages bring the story together from a context of many years after the summer vacations. "The Flower" is Louise Erdich at her best, telling a story of an idealistic 19th century shopkeeper who comes west to a trading post and comes to protect a young Native American girl who is sold to the main trader for alcohol. A touching scene is when the idealistic man cleans the young girl to discover her beauty and by glances and informal sign language tells the young girl that they need to reapply the mud to hide her beauty. "For the God of Love, for the love of God" by Lauren Grof is set in a French estate. Amanda has come to visit her long time friend as a vacation for her and her husband Grant, though the difference in incomes and lifestyles lead to Amanda's stay being as much as a caretaker and babysitter as a friend taking a vacation. As the story progresses we learn more of the characters and their pasts and the story left me wanting the story to continue "The Suitcase" occurs entirely in one morning as Saba readies to return to her home in Seattle from visiting her homeland and extended family in Ethopia. She had one empty suitcase that carried presents to her family from America and was ready to be packed for the family's return presents to family that had resettled in Seattle. Saba details the different gifts and the stories of the givers and the difficult choices in deciding what to bring. This is one of the best examples of sparse and short writing saying so much I had mixed feelings about "The Politics of the Quotidian" a story about a postdoctoral student's life facing the hinderances of a limited income, a cold and cutthroat academic world, and a student who challenges her in class. The story was depressing as the student spirals downward as she seeks help from the different challenges but as I found myself re-reading many paragraphs and thinking of the lonely soul made me realize the impact the story had on me

  11. 5 out of 5

    tortoise dreams

    The title best describes the intent of this series, presented in its current format with a "name" guest editor, since 1978. Book review: The Best American Short Stories 2016, that ambitious claim assumes a significant responsibility. When Junot Diaz, author of the beyond brilliant The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was announced as the editor for 2016 my hopes were raised, but this installment was disappointing. There are some notable names: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Louise Erdrich, Lauren Gr The title best describes the intent of this series, presented in its current format with a "name" guest editor, since 1978. Book review: The Best American Short Stories 2016, that ambitious claim assumes a significant responsibility. When Junot Diaz, author of the beyond brilliant The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was announced as the editor for 2016 my hopes were raised, but this installment was disappointing. There are some notable names: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Louise Erdrich, Lauren Groff, John Edgar Wideman. There are some good stories: "Wonders of the Shore" by Andrea Barrett (so aware), "The Prospectors" by Karen Russell (my favorite), "On This Side" by Yuko Sakata (so good), or "Williamsburg Bridge" by John Edgar Wideman (or is this my favorite?). But it's hard to accept that this book contains the best short stories of the year from U.S. and Canadian magazines (no Canadian magazines included -- sorry), because then it must've been a bad year for the form. About a third of the stories seemed successful, but too many seemed incomplete or the product of an undergraduate writing workshop, when young writers believe they're the first people to have ever experienced life and write about it. Some seemed like medicine: read this because it's good for you. Diaz is to be acknowledged for giving young writers publicity, but the intent here is to identify the best stories in the country, not up and coming authors; there are other outlets for that. This series should be, like the New York Times, the publication of record. Thirty years from now researchers should be able to look back and use The Best American Short Stories as the barometer of what was considered good writing in 2016, and I don't want to believe that the short story has fallen on such hard times. Sure there are interesting ideas, good sections, nice lines, insightful sketches, but are these really the best stories written? My other regret is that I don't have the time or money to read all 3,000+ stories that Ms. Pitlor does annually, so I rely on this book to give me what I should've read during the year. I scour used-book shops looking for back copies of The Best American Short Stories, because of the usual high quality of this series, which may be the reason for some of my personal disappointment here. Every year this should be a 5-Star book. I'm not saying you won't find stories to enjoy, just that it may be about a third, even though we all enjoy different flavors. There was an interesting series of doubles here: two stories each about a parent reacting badly to a child's problem, suicides from heights, thieving couples, bored affairs. Thirteen stories here are by women, seven by male authors, about the same ratio as last year. Undoubtedly there's something here for you, as long as you're willing to read through the rest. [3 Stars]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Darrin

    Where to begin? There were so many good short stories in this volume. The short biographical blurbs with information about the authors' books, short bio and how each story came to be is really helpful. My favorites? They didn't match Junot Diaz' favorites but here they are: Wonders of the Shore by Andrea Barrett For the God of Love, for the Love of God by Lauren Groff Treasure State by Smith Henderson The Prospectors by Karen Russell Where to begin? There were so many good short stories in this volume. The short biographical blurbs with information about the authors' books, short bio and how each story came to be is really helpful. My favorites? They didn't match Junot Diaz' favorites but here they are: Wonders of the Shore by Andrea Barrett For the God of Love, for the Love of God by Lauren Groff Treasure State by Smith Henderson The Prospectors by Karen Russell

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alor Deng

    Some superb stories here. Three of which deserve even more recognition than just being printed on here. Lauren Groff's story was superb. One of the best things I've ever read. The last page of her story was the work of a genius. Some superb stories here. Three of which deserve even more recognition than just being printed on here. Lauren Groff's story was superb. One of the best things I've ever read. The last page of her story was the work of a genius.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ming

    Short stories have been a difficult format for me as a reader to consistently enjoy. I've often felt rushed, shortchanged or merely distracted but unsatisfied. Diaz, the editor here, however, described the beauty of short stories and it then finally dawned on me when I do like short stories. And this year, I read and absolutely loved "Swimmer Among the Stars: Stories" by Kanishk Tharoor; this work is beautiful and completely creative and mind-expanding. Diaz writes in the Introduction, "I am as Short stories have been a difficult format for me as a reader to consistently enjoy. I've often felt rushed, shortchanged or merely distracted but unsatisfied. Diaz, the editor here, however, described the beauty of short stories and it then finally dawned on me when I do like short stories. And this year, I read and absolutely loved "Swimmer Among the Stars: Stories" by Kanishk Tharoor; this work is beautiful and completely creative and mind-expanding. Diaz writes in the Introduction, "I am as much in awe of the form's surpassing beauty as I am bowled over by its extraordinary mutability and generativity. I love the form's spooky effects, how in contradistinction to the novel, which gains its majesty from its expansiveness, from its size, the short story's colossal power extends from its brevity and restraint....Give a short story a dozen pages and it can break hearts bones vanities and cages. And in the right hands there's more oomph in a gram of short story than in almost any literary form. It's precisely this exhilarating atomic compound of economy + power that has entranced readers and practitioners alike for generations...Novels might be able to summon entire worlds, but few literary forms can match the story at putting a reader in touch with life's inexorable rhythm. It's the one great benefit of the form's limitation. Stories, after all, are short, just like our human moments." I read and especially enjoyed Garments by Tahmima Anam, The Great Silence by Ted Chiang, The Flower by Louise Erdrich, and Pat + Sam by Lisa Ko. A few favorite quotes: Ko: "When you start to hope, then comes the danger. You begin to think that love is like song lyrics, and then you're in trouble." Erdrich: "At the school, everything was taken from her. Losing her mother's drum was like losing Mink all over again. At night, she asked the drums to fly back to her again. But there was no answer. She soon learned to fall asleep. Or let the part of myself they call hateful fall asleep, she thought. But that was all of herself. Her whole being was Anishinaabe. She was Illusion. She was Mirage. Ombanitemagad. Or what they called her now--Indian. As in, Do not speak Indian, when she had been speaking her own language. It was hard to divide off parts of herself and let them go. At night, she flew up through the ceiling and soared as she had been taught. She stored pieces of her being in the tops of the trees. She'd retrieve them later, when the bells stopped. But the bells would never stop. There were so many bells. Her head ached, at first, because of the bells. My thought are all tangled up, she said out loud to herself. inbiimiskwendam. However, there was very little time to consider what was happening."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Langan

    It's great collection, with legit and distinct voices. I wish less came from The New Yorker, which I read anyway. I also wish more were genre-- and by genre, I mean: I wish more had actual plots, characters with agency who changed as a result of action/decision, and satisfying resolutions. But the good ones are really, really good: "Garments" by Tahmima Anam, about a women who enters into a polygamous marriage in the hopes her life will improve-- always an ominous decision. "The Letician Age" by Y It's great collection, with legit and distinct voices. I wish less came from The New Yorker, which I read anyway. I also wish more were genre-- and by genre, I mean: I wish more had actual plots, characters with agency who changed as a result of action/decision, and satisfying resolutions. But the good ones are really, really good: "Garments" by Tahmima Anam, about a women who enters into a polygamous marriage in the hopes her life will improve-- always an ominous decision. "The Letician Age" by Yalitza Ferrera, which has the most suspenseful hot lava scene I've ever read. Weird and thrilling. "For the Love of God, For the God of Love," by Lauren Groff - brilliant. Screw you, Lauren Groff. You're too good. "Cold Little Bird," by Ben Marcus, about a kid who decides to stop loving his parents. This is the one I still think about, and will continue to think about for years. "The Politics of the Quotidian," by Caille Millner, about a woman who's struggling in academia, her path steeped in believable, invisible microaggressions that wear her down in ways she's unaware. Totally sympathetic, and showed me something new. "The Prospectors," by Karen Russell. Maybe her best? Is that even possible? About two friends who wind-up in a hotel full of ghosts. It's so damn good, about friendship and life decisions, told smart and fresh. "On This Side" by Yoku Sakata, about old school friends reacquainting after one has changed gender. "Gifted" by Sharon Solowitz, about the pretty, smart sister. I love this story and its perspective. That realization that being the smarter, better looking one doesn't mean you're any happier. And maybe you're less happy. Only, you can't complain about it because you look like an asshole. Solowitz says that she tried writing this story for Gordon Lish and he told her no one cares about that sister-- tell the ugly sister's story. Lish was such a clown. The theme here, I guess, is that either women are better writers, or I like women's stories better. Likely it's the latter. Anyway, great collection.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    Junot Diaz is a great author and has done a fine job collecting the story for The Best American Short Stories 2016. Here's what I can recall from memory. Yalitza Ferreras's "The Letician Age" is a story about a woman who falls in love and who has an interest in volcanic rock. There's the threat of an accident, and a heartbreaking move toward the end. Meron Hadero's "The Suitcase" is a wholesome story about a character who is trying to bring back some gifts from the native land. Yuko Sakato's "On Th Junot Diaz is a great author and has done a fine job collecting the story for The Best American Short Stories 2016. Here's what I can recall from memory. Yalitza Ferreras's "The Letician Age" is a story about a woman who falls in love and who has an interest in volcanic rock. There's the threat of an accident, and a heartbreaking move toward the end. Meron Hadero's "The Suitcase" is a wholesome story about a character who is trying to bring back some gifts from the native land. Yuko Sakato's "On This Side" is about a Japanese man who meets a boy he went to school with who has transitioned to a woman. This is an amazing story. Hector Tobar's "Secret Stream" is the story of a bicyclist who meets a woman who searches for the ends of streams. Sorry that that's all I can remember right now, but trust me: this is a very good collection. What Junot Diaz has done a good job of with this collection is by collecting stories that might not be traditionally presented in a Best American collection, stories published in American journals and magazines but which take place in other countries, written by authors of a wide variety of nationalities. Solid, solid collection, great examples of writing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Wakeman

    This year's collection has received a lot of well-deserved praise for its wide range of voices. For that reason, and because the stories seem shorter than usual, I enjoyed it more than I have other BASS collections. Among the collection are a few I'd recommend to folks who aren't usually short story people. A favorite, "The Letician Age," poignantly portrayed the struggle of a young immigrant girl in America and at the same time delivered a lot of science-y information. The research didn't overw This year's collection has received a lot of well-deserved praise for its wide range of voices. For that reason, and because the stories seem shorter than usual, I enjoyed it more than I have other BASS collections. Among the collection are a few I'd recommend to folks who aren't usually short story people. A favorite, "The Letician Age," poignantly portrayed the struggle of a young immigrant girl in America and at the same time delivered a lot of science-y information. The research didn't overwhelm the story at all. Also at the top of my personal list was Karen Russell's "The Prospectors," an old-fashioned ghost story with brilliant images and rich characterization. Some years, I find BASS heavy in stories about writers who teach at universities or live in Brooklyn. These stories seem aimed at an insular bubble world, where everyone is at graduate school or Yaddo and you need a passport to enter their world. This year has a few of those: "The Quotidian" and "The Bears." Neither appealed to me much. I discussed the book with a group of writer pals, and one friend pointed out, rightly, that the collection is pretty bleak, a fair criticism.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sonya

    This is a collection where I'd read a story every once in a while and then forget about it while I read other work, which is a good way to approach an anthology of stories connected only by the favor of the editors. There are some standouts that include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Apollo; The Bears by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum; Smith Henderson's Treasure State; Lisa Ko's Pat+Sam (pushing The Leavers, Ko's new novel higher up on my tbr); Ben Marcus's Cold Little Bird (what a menacing kid; how callow; This is a collection where I'd read a story every once in a while and then forget about it while I read other work, which is a good way to approach an anthology of stories connected only by the favor of the editors. There are some standouts that include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Apollo; The Bears by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum; Smith Henderson's Treasure State; Lisa Ko's Pat+Sam (pushing The Leavers, Ko's new novel higher up on my tbr); Ben Marcus's Cold Little Bird (what a menacing kid; how callow; cold steel); Caille Millner's The Politics of the Quotidian; Karen Russell's The Prospectors; and especially John Edgar Wideman's Williamburg Bridge, which conjures up the prose of Ralph Ellison, and which in many of the reviews here is considered "a slog," though if you just take the time to see the protagonist's story unfold, you'll see history unfold right along with it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christine Wiseman

    While I understand that a reader doesn't have to love every short story in an anthology in order to respect the craft, I had an overwhelming impression that this year's guest editor was using the role to send a message about race and diversity rather than choosing the absolute best written pieces out of thousands. I started with "Apollo" and "The Politics of the Quotidian" which made me go on to research the guest editor Junot Diaz. The Boston Globe writes that Diaz has criticized the"unbearable While I understand that a reader doesn't have to love every short story in an anthology in order to respect the craft, I had an overwhelming impression that this year's guest editor was using the role to send a message about race and diversity rather than choosing the absolute best written pieces out of thousands. I started with "Apollo" and "The Politics of the Quotidian" which made me go on to research the guest editor Junot Diaz. The Boston Globe writes that Diaz has criticized the"unbearable whiteness" of American literature. I see that, unfortunately, his own intrinsic bias has compelled him to judge the short story with a "diversity-first" lens rather than truly looking for the best of the best.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debra Komar

    As always with these anthologies, it was a mixed bag. There are some standouts, like Ben Marcus' "Cold Little Bird", the story of parents coming to terms with their seemingly psychotic child. There are some resounding thuds, such as Lauren Groff's "The Love of God, the God of Love", which is as pretentious and overwritten as her novel "Fates and Furies". The rest fall somewhere in between. The opening essays by the editor Junot Diaz are nothing special. Not a stellar year for this collection, bu As always with these anthologies, it was a mixed bag. There are some standouts, like Ben Marcus' "Cold Little Bird", the story of parents coming to terms with their seemingly psychotic child. There are some resounding thuds, such as Lauren Groff's "The Love of God, the God of Love", which is as pretentious and overwritten as her novel "Fates and Furies". The rest fall somewhere in between. The opening essays by the editor Junot Diaz are nothing special. Not a stellar year for this collection, but also not its worst.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    This is a wonderful series which rarely disappoints and I was particularly looking forward to this year's edition because I think Junot Diaz is one of our gent young writers. He certainly came through with flying colors except I have to say that the final story was beyond tedious which was surprising coming from another of America's preeminent writers. But the volume as a whole was quite strong and diverse. If anyone reading this has not read Diaz's "Drown" collection of related stories, I highl This is a wonderful series which rarely disappoints and I was particularly looking forward to this year's edition because I think Junot Diaz is one of our gent young writers. He certainly came through with flying colors except I have to say that the final story was beyond tedious which was surprising coming from another of America's preeminent writers. But the volume as a whole was quite strong and diverse. If anyone reading this has not read Diaz's "Drown" collection of related stories, I highly highly recommend it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I read this book simply because it was in the house left by one of my boys in college. After reading this, I've determined that I'm not a huge fan of short stories (except for children) and that the editor, Junot Diaz, and I would definitely not have the same taste in reading. There were a few short stories I liked, many I hated, and many that I could not figure out WHY they made it into this book. Definitely eye opening to the types of short stories out there. If you enjoy the genre of short st I read this book simply because it was in the house left by one of my boys in college. After reading this, I've determined that I'm not a huge fan of short stories (except for children) and that the editor, Junot Diaz, and I would definitely not have the same taste in reading. There were a few short stories I liked, many I hated, and many that I could not figure out WHY they made it into this book. Definitely eye opening to the types of short stories out there. If you enjoy the genre of short stories, you may find this interesting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    `Cristina

    I am not a fan of short stories and this is exactly why I picked this book. I wanted something I usually stay away from. I enjoyed the stories, mostly I liked the way these writers are able to build a plot and interesting sets of characters in just few pages. I like their writing style, short, concise and yet rich enough to convey the depth of the charactera. Some stories were more appelimg than others. I gave three starts but it was mostly like a 3+

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    I like short story collections, but this one was pretty hit or miss for me, and even the "hits" didn't really move me enough to make me like the collection as a whole. A couple favorites include Ted Chiang's "The Great Silence" and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Apollo". To be honest, even though Junot Diaz's introduction was an autobiographical story about his journey to writing short fiction, it was some of the most interesting writing in the book. I like short story collections, but this one was pretty hit or miss for me, and even the "hits" didn't really move me enough to make me like the collection as a whole. A couple favorites include Ted Chiang's "The Great Silence" and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Apollo". To be honest, even though Junot Diaz's introduction was an autobiographical story about his journey to writing short fiction, it was some of the most interesting writing in the book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brent Watson

    Most of these stories are really, really good. A few like, Smith Henderson’s “Treasure State,” "On This Side" by Yuko Sakata, and Solomon Solwitz's "Gifted" will stick with me for a long time. And like most years of this series, there will be some short stories the editor must have loved, yet I did not connect with. Most of these stories are really, really good. A few like, Smith Henderson’s “Treasure State,” "On This Side" by Yuko Sakata, and Solomon Solwitz's "Gifted" will stick with me for a long time. And like most years of this series, there will be some short stories the editor must have loved, yet I did not connect with.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Keating

    There were three or four pretty good stories in here, but I guess I thought that they'd all be a lot better, for the best of American short stories. Several had pretty poor closure or character development and I got the impression the authors were just writing an idea for a larger novel and just called it a short story. Meh. There were three or four pretty good stories in here, but I guess I thought that they'd all be a lot better, for the best of American short stories. Several had pretty poor closure or character development and I got the impression the authors were just writing an idea for a larger novel and just called it a short story. Meh.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol Weaver

    I read many short story collections and found this to be among the best. The diversity of the collection is rich both in the ethnic background of the authors and their writing style. Every story was effective in holding the attention of the reader with eloquent and witty prose, plus an ability to make us assess some part of our own lives.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Excellent short stories most of them, some by favorite authors: such as Andrea Barrett, and Louise Erdrich. Found some new favorites such as Ben Marcus and Karen Russell. Didn't care for the last story. Excellent short stories most of them, some by favorite authors: such as Andrea Barrett, and Louise Erdrich. Found some new favorites such as Ben Marcus and Karen Russell. Didn't care for the last story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This book jump started a reading dry spell I've had for awhile. Diaz's introduction is a thing of beauty, as so much of his thoughtful writing is. The stories are a wonderful variety of voices, styles, and subjects. Worthwhile. This book jump started a reading dry spell I've had for awhile. Diaz's introduction is a thing of beauty, as so much of his thoughtful writing is. The stories are a wonderful variety of voices, styles, and subjects. Worthwhile.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A mixed, haunting, poignant collection. The one about the kid who cools on his parents stuck with me the longest, and the last story was a bit jarringly poetic. I love Díaz for his choices and am glad I took the time to read this motley melange of strange and moving talent.

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