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December 14, 2011

Favorite Short Story Collections of 2011

These are the short fiction collections I have recommended most to blog readers, friends, and family throughout the year.

All links go to the authors' contributions to the Book Notes series or my 52 Books, 52 Weeks review. I have reposted my original review below each book.

What was your favorite short story collection of 2011?

The Book of Life by Stuart Nadler

Stuart Nadler's debut story collection The Book of Life, one of the year's finest, is filled with keen observations of everyday lives, refreshing dark humor, and the struggle between tradition and modern life.

East of the West by Miroslav Penkov

I was first introduced to the fiction of Miroslav Penkov through his Eudora Welty Fiction Prize-wining story "Buying Lenin," which appeared in the 2008 Best American Short Stories anthology and easily won my heart. His debut collection East of the West offers tales of everyday Bulgarians, both at home and abroad. These are powerful short stories, but taken together their brilliance magnifies with a skillful combination of humor and pathos.

The Great Frustration by Seth Fried

Seth Fried's debut story collection The Great Frustration is often dark, funny, and absurd at the same time, a promising and entertaining first book from a truly gifted author.

Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod

In his short story collection Light Lifting, Alexander MacLeod wonderfully magnifies and illustrates the weight of everyday life.

Other People We Married by Emma Straub

A couple of years ago I received a review copy of Emma Straub's book Fly-over State in the mail. I can only compare reading her stories for the first time with hearing that initial song from what would become your favorite band. I obsessively searched out her other stories, and she has quickly become one of my favorite writers.

In the introduction to her 2009 Book Notes piece for Fly-over State I predicted she was a "writer to watch with a strong literary future." With Other People We Married, Straub proves that the future is now. Her eye for detail combined with a keen, pervasive sense of humor bring these engaging stories to life in one of the year's finest short fiction collections.

Volt by Alan Heathcock

Alan Heathcock's short fiction collection Volt is filled with desperate characters and their heartbreaking, interconnected stories. Heathcock expertly draws a raw, intimate portrait of an American small town, character by character, and weaves their desperation and hope into one of the year's most striking short story collections.

also at Largehearted Boy:

online "best of 2011" book lists

Largehearted Boy favorite nonfiction of 2011
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2011

Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2010
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2009
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2008

previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks book reviews