Some Jewish Short Stories for Short Story Month

By Erika Dreifus on May 17, 2016

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Maybe you already know that April is National Poetry Month. That tradition is relatively well established and recognized. But did you know that May brings another reason for literary celebration? That May has been designated Short Story Month (SSM)?

No? Read on.

Short Story Month is generally credited to Dan Wickett, who wrote a guest post for our friends at Fiction Writers Review back in 2011 that explains the project’s origins. Although we have yet to publish a short-story collection here at Fig Tree Books—and authors and agents should note that our focus on novels means that linked collections that read like “novels-in-stories” are more likely to pique our interest—we’re quite aware of the importance of short stories in Jewish literature.

To that end, this seems to be a propitious moment to remind you of some writings we’ve published here on the FTB website about significant collections of Jewish short fiction. These include:

If you haven’t yet read these excellent discussions, Short Story Month is the perfect time to do so.

And we’re curious: Which Jewish short stories (individual stories or collections?) are among your favorites?

I’ll kick things off by referencing a short piece that I contributed some time back—again, on Fiction Writers Review, to celebrate another year’s Short Story Month—about a standout story, “Body Count,” by my friend Margot Singer. (“Body Count” appears in her magnificent collection The Pale of Settlement.)

Now, it’s your turn! Let’s try to get an excellent reading list going here for anyone interested in Jewish short stories.

  • Steven Volynets

    Just a few that come to mind:

    Barnard Malamud’s “Angel Levine” (Collected Stories)
    I.B. Singer’s “Powers” (Collected Stories)
    Grace Paley’s “The Long Distance Runner” (Enormous Changes at the Last Minute)
    Isaac Babel’s “Salt” (Red Cavalry)
    J.D. Salinger’s “Down by the Dinghy” (Nine Stories)
    Jerome Charyn’s “Dee” (Bitter Bronx)
    Lara Vapnyar’s “There are Jews in My House” (There are Jews in My House)
    Molly Antopol’s “The Old World” (The UnAmericans)
    Mavis Gallant’s “The Pegnitz Junction”

    • Beth Browne

      I just got Antopol’s book! Will have to bump it up in the to-read pile!

      • Steven Volynets

        Excellent! Some of the stories are better than others, but overall a great collection.

        • Erika Dreifus

          I’ve attempted to comment before, but there was a bit of a glitch. This is a great list (and I’m a fan of Molly Antopol’s book, too–check out this Q&A on one of my personal blogs: http://www.erikadreifus.com/2014/04/molly-antopol/.

  • Leora Freedman

    Happy short story month! I publish a monthly flash-fiction blog, Jewish Short Stories Online: http://www.jewishshortstoriesonline.com/

    • Erika Dreifus

      Thanks for sharing that, Leora!

  • Cathy Bryant

    Isaac Asimov was the king of science fiction, and his short stories were masterly. His ‘The Early Asimov vols 1-3’ is fascinating, because it charts his short stories from his first accepted story to his famous ones, and exlains how many rejections each got and what he was paid. ‘Nightfall’ has been voted the best science fiction story ever, many times, and his collections ‘Nightfall and Other Stories’ are magnificent. My favourite of his has to be ‘Nine Tomorrows’, as I grew up with it, and as it packs the most emotional punch. My parents said that they didn’t like Jews – it’s a good job that they didn’t check the bookshelves in our house too closely. 🙂

    • Erika Dreifus

      Oh, my!

      • Cathy Bryant

        I know. 🙁 Books helped me to escape from them.

  • Leora Freedman

    For something really different, check out Signs and Wonders, which is a very rich, absorbing international anthology of Jewish “fabulist” short fiction. Fabulist fiction is hard to define but well worth experiencing and thinking about in a Jewish context:
    http://www.amazon.com/Signs-Wonders-International-Anthology-Fabulist/dp/0967968356

    • Erika Dreifus

      Thanks again, Leora!

  • Julie Zuckerman

    I am late to this discussion, but want to warmly recommend the following collections:
    Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman
    Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
    The Shoplifter’s Apprentice by Ellen Lesser
    Levitation by Cynthia Ozick

    to name a few….

    • Erika Dreifus

      Julie, it’s never too late to join this discussion–especially with such excellent recommendations! (BINOCULAR VISION is on my list to re-read [and write about] as part of this project: https://figtreebooks.net/category/past-wallant-winners/.)

      • Julie Zuckerman

        I might as well admit it: I want to BE Edith Pearlman…:-)

        • Erika Dreifus

          I’m confident that you are not alone! 😉