In June 2010, the editors of The New Yorker announced to widespread media coverage their selection of “20 Under 40”—the young fiction writers who are, or will be, central to their generation. The magazine published twenty stories by this stellar group of writers over the course of the summer. They are now collected for the first time in one volume.
The range of voices is extraordinary. There is the lyrical realism of Nell Freudenberger, Philipp Meyer, C. E. Morgan, and Salvatore Scibona; the satirical comedy of Joshua Ferris and Gary Shteyngart; and the genre-bending tales of Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, and Téa Obreht. David Bezmozgis and Dinaw Mengestu offer clear eyed portraits of immigration and identity; Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, ZZ Packer, and Wells Tower offer voice-driven, idiosyncratic narratives. Then there are the haunting sociopolitical stories of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Daniel Alarcón, and Yiyun Li, and the metaphysical fantasies of Chris Adrian, Rivka Galchen, and Karen Russell.
Each of these writers reminds us why we read. And each is aiming for greatness: fighting to get and to hold our attention in a culture that is flooded with words, sounds, and pictures; fighting to surprise, to entertain, to teach, and to move not only us but generations of readers to come. A landmark collection, 20 Under 40 stands as a testament to the vitality of fiction today.