Fresh air: short story authors have garnered world attention this year, and made a mark in International Literature. January started with George Saunders’ “Tenth of December,” topping the list: “the best book you will read this year” a change from previous “best books” having been mostly novels. But btw: publishers will still insist that the short story is, err, shall we say, “not profitable,” adding on statements like, half alive. less urgent. Try and write a novel instead… As for poetry, some will claim that it’s half-dead, not the same as the short story but shall we say, a leg behind? But let’s not go there. Let us celebrate the short story while the limelight shines. There’s time for everything, no need to despair, this world is big enough for all kinds of genre to flourish. Although we swallow some untruths and deceive ourselves into thinking–stop the thought.
So I was saying it’s really a good change that the Man Booker International prize this year has gone to Lydia Davis, whose short stories (some) are as long as a thumb, and short as a baby’s first word. Perhaps part of the credit should go to the interesting jury as well, Tim Parks and Christopher Ricks joined by Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna and Yiyun Li. That’s what we mean by international. Or it’s just that the time for the short story to seize the day has come, and the stories are splendid anyhow. Let me bury myself in some. You can do the same.