Alone With You by Marisa Silver

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

Alone With You
By Marisa Silver
176 pages; Simon & Schuster

In the eight fierce stories in her second collection, Alone with You, Marisa Silver explores the impact of collateral damage, whether sustained in war or in life. In one story, set in a Los Angeles–area VA hospital, a young nurse's aide refuses to give up on a patient who is "three-quarters gone," because, as the orphan of a junkie mother, she knows that visible injuries are "never the gravest"...Read more

How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique

Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

How to Escape from a Leper Colony
By Tiphanie Yanique
240 pages; Graywolf

To wrap your mind around life on an island, you need to understand insularity, restlessness, the way it feels to have a fluid sense of identity. All this and more is what you get from Tiphanie Yanique's haunting and vibrant debut fiction collection, How to Escape from a Leper Colony. Set in the Caribbean—in places with lilting names like Dominica, Tortola, Gasparee—the stories and novella are told in disparate voices...Read more

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want I by Maile Meloy

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It
By Maile Meloy
240 pages; Riverhead

Maile Meloy's Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (Riverhead) reads like a Bruce Springsteen album sounds: raw with a tender wildness and loaded with adolescent ache...Read more
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
By Robin Black
288 pages; Random House

"It took me eight years to write the ten stories here," says Robin Black in the acknowledgments of her debut collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This (Random House). It shows. This book is not a fast read. Rather, it offers the kind of storytelling that's so deft, so understated, and so compelling that you have to slow down to savor each vignette...Read more
Girl Trouble by Holly Goddard Jones

Girl Trouble
By Holly Goddard Jones
368 pages; Harper Perennial

The eight stories collected here poignantly dissect a group of trapped people—mothers, lovers, students, dads—all doing the best they can. Theirs is the smallest of ponds, stretching as far as Western Kentucky University for those with good grades and to the factory down the street for those without.... Read more
Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom

Where the God of Love Hangs Out
By Amy Bloom
224 pages; Random House

It's no valentine. O contributor Amy Bloom's collection of short fiction, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, is about real-life passion—greedy, misguided, rueful, hopeful, generous to a fault...

There's nothing pretty about selfishness, or despair, or plain rotten judgment, and their destructive force is evident throughout this collection...Read more
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

Say You're One of Them
By Uwem Akpan
368 pages; Bay Bay

Only Uwem Akpan, a Nigerian-born writer and Jesuit priest, could guide us though such desperate terrain, from street slums in Nairobi to war-torn Rwanda, with something like hope in our hands....a recent pick of Oprah's Book Club, Say You're One of them Them tempers ineffable treachery with wild-eyed imagination...Read more

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Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness
By Alice Munro
320 pages; Knopf

Too Much Happiness is the title of Alice Munro's collection, but the characters in these ten powerful short stories hardly seem to be suffering from an excess of joy. Rather, like the rest of us, they're struggling to cope with the losses and disappointments, the shocks and surprises, the dramatic turning points that leave their ineradicable mark on every life...Read more
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
By Lydia Davis
752 pages; Straus and Giroux

Lydia Davis is one of the best writers in America, a fact that has been kept under wraps by her specialization in short fiction rather than the novel and her discomfort with the idea of one event following another in some sensible pattern, an expectation she frequently plays with, as a kitten will with your fingers. Watch out for those teeth and claws. With the publication of this big book, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis , Davis might well receive the kind of notice she's long been due....Read more
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
By Kazuo Ishiguro
240 pages; Knopf

At heart, Ishiguro's battery of talents are applied in Nocturnes to one goal—the scrubbing away of false romance, of clichéd resolutions, in life and in his writing. The result is a pitch-perfect riff on the sheer quirkiness of reality...Read more

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