Following the immense success of The Art of the Tale, Daniel Halpern has assembled the next generation of short-story writers—those born after 1937—to create a companion volume, The Art of the Story. Attesting to the depth, range, and continued popularity of short fiction, this collection includes seventy-eight contributors from thirty-five countries. The Art of the Story combines the best of the established masters as well as the fresh, new voices of writers whose work has seldom been translated into English.
A reader doesn't want to love every story in an anthology. A collection of short fiction by various authors should be just that: various. We want all the stories to be admirable, but not necessarily lovable. This is how anthologies do their job, which is to teach us to love new forms of fiction. And this is how Daniel Halpern, editor of The Art of the Story, does his job. Halpern previously brought us the successful and far-reaching collection The Art of the Tale. Now he has taken upon himself the task of creating an international sampling of the contemporary short story. Seventy-eight writers from 35 countries--including Banana Yoshimoto, Junot Díaz, Peter Hoeg, Julian Barnes, T.C. Boyle, Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey, Edwidge Danticat, and Tatyana Tolstaya--demonstrate that the story still brims with unrest and disharmony and, well, variousness. The classical form, the story that implies the world in a truncated scene or two, that implies a life in a single moment, is amply represented in this collection by writers like Ann Beattie ("In Amalfi") and Raymond Carver ("Are These Actual Miles?"). But the new story ranges farther than the personal, making inroads into the parodic, the fantastic, the speculative. As Halpern writes in the preface, "There seems to be a more investigative nature to the fiction of these stories written so close to the end of this century, a tendency, especially among writers from emerging nations, to use the story as a means of orientation, to restate for themselves their position--politically, socially, and artistically--as if for these writers there is radically less separation between reality and the imagination." Certainly this is an apt description of the fiction of Nigeria's Booker Prize winner Ben Okri ("In the Shadow of War") and of American newcomer Nathan Englander, whose "The Twenty-Seventh Man" describes the slaughter of Yiddish writers and contains the unforgettable dictate, "Never outlive your language." --Claire Dederer