Sudden Fiction International – 60 Short Short Stories

Sudden-Fiction-International

I have always liked short stories but even more than that I like very short stories, tales that are barely one to five pages long. The success of their first edition of Sudden Fiction led the editors to the idea to do the same for international fiction that they had previously done for American Fiction. The collection Sudden Fiction International presents 60 very short stories from authors from all over the world. I’ve started to read the collection over the last few weeks and I’m amazed. It’s a fantastic collection. Not only is each and every story wonderful, it also introduces the reader to authors from many different countries. The result is rich, varied and vibrant. Reading and discovering these tales feels like it would have felt to be offered a huge collection of marbles as a child. Each of them is round and perfect but they all have another pattern, another colour, a different transparency.

In addition to the stories there is some background information on the authors provided at the end of the book. Most of the times the information is given by the respective translators.

I know that many people are reluctant to pick up short stories. They don’t know how to read them, feel they cannot immerse themselves as much as they want. I believe that the very short story could be helpful because it can be read and re-read in one sitting without too much effort.

I have read quite a few of the stories already and with the exception of Cortázar’s story, I liked them all. The two which did stand out the most so far were Buzzati’s The Falling Girl and Kawabata’s The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket. The first is the story of a young girl which jumps from a skyscraper but falls very slowly and has enough time to talk to the people she passes by. It’s a sociological look at contemporary Italy. Kawabata’s story is a thing of rare beauty. A man sees children at night, each of them carrying a lantern in another colour. The children are looking for insects and one of them finds a grasshopper. The story offers a nostalgic look at childhood and the way time passes so quickly and dreams die too soon.

For those interested I noted a few of the authors, stories and countries they represent. Although this is the second tome, there are still quite a lot of American stories in this one and many from other English-speaking countries too.

Dino Buzzati – The Falling Girl – Italy

Yasunary Kawabata – The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket – Japan

Colette – The Other Wife – France

Rodrigo Rey Rosa – The Book – Guatemala

Bessie Head – Looking for the Rain God – Botswana

Jamaica Kincaid – Girl- Antigua

Joyce Carol Oates – The Boy – US

Sergei Dovlatov – Katya – Russia

Feng Jica – The Street Sweeping Show – China

36 thoughts on “Sudden Fiction International – 60 Short Short Stories

  1. I picked up a Sudden Fiction collection a few years ago. My memories of it are positive but tempered with the idea that I wanted to read more about the characters. Overall though I think short story collections are a great way to find new authors.

    • Sudden Fiction is quite special as the stories really are very close. I like it a lot when atmosphere and mood are the most importnat features. It works very well in a few pages.
      This is an especially great collection as they have authors form around the globe.

    • Yes, that’s true they didn’t choose the latest but the number of countries is amazing.
      I wonder it they could really fill a volume with outstanding stories every year. I’ve seen country best of collections per year but the ystories tend to be longer.

  2. This is a great way to discover new writers even if I’m afraid I’d be frustrated by the length of the stories. I like my short stories a litlle longer than 5 pages.

    • I like them this condensed. I am mor often frustrated with 20-50 ppages stories. These are very lyrical. I would have liked to know how you would like the Kawabata. For me it’s a very typically Japanese story, it would be a good “test”. If you didn’t like it, it’s time to move on to other countries. I’ll see if there is a version online somewhere.

  3. I’ve been really into short stories lately–even reading a few collections ‘on the side’ as it were (that aren’t listed on my sidebar) thinking I would just dip in generically, but finding I am liking them so much am just making steady progress reading each story. I will have to look for both of the editions of this book–I wonder if this is what “flash fiction’ is? My library has been ordering in books (by Latin American authors mostly) writing flash fiction. Anyway, looks like a nice selection of authors and countries.

    • Yes, I think Flas Fiction is another expression, although I thought that was limited to one page. There is a third volume out, Sudden Fiction Continued. Thry are all great. This had the most appeal as it covers such a lot of countries I’ve never read anything from. I have at least four short story collection I’m reading from at the moment and like it very much.

  4. The idea if a collection of very short stories is interesting and this sounds like an innovative concept. In the other hand it almost seems like a lot of very good ideas might wind up underdeveloped. This, I might become a little frustrated after reading too many of these.

    • Not to me and as far as I remember you alos read poetry, I’d say you’d like these. mayn are like prose poems. And Iit’s hard to write a prose poem which is longer than 5 – 6 pages.

  5. I’m intrigued. I love short fiction and to see how much a gifted storyteller can cram into a few pages without it seeming like they are cramming it in. Does that make sense? I think it’s time for my first cup of tea.

  6. I want to love flash fiction but can’t quite get into it. Still, I’m all for the creation of new and exciting genres. I love to see innovation at work in storytelling.

  7. Wonderful review, Caroline! ‘The Falling Girl’ looks like a beautiful but sad story. It was interesting to know that there is a Dovlatov’s story in the book. I remember reading one of his stories when I studied Russian. Thanks for introducing this wonderful book to us.

    • My pleasure, it’s well worth reading. I loved almost all the stories I’ve read so far. Dovlatov’s story is well written but quite horrible. I found it very hard to read.

    • The American collection is probably good too but this had a much greater appeal for me. It’s a book I can recommend without reservations, especially if you like short stories. It’s rare I see authors from so many countries.
      I’d be interested to know what you think of it.

  8. I would love to read this one! although zi might not read it like you…I can’t read a collection by many authors in one go. I have tried once and it left me confused because if the different writing style in each story.

    I really like to read that falling girl story…it sounds really interesting.

    • It’s a great story, I’ll see if I can find it online somewhere and send you the link.
      I can read it in one go but I stop inbetween stories for a few days, so it takes quite a long time to finish.

  9. I just finished reading Yoko Ogawa’s collection of short stories Revenge, one of the fastest page turning collections I have ever read, each story carrying a thread from the former and displaying a brilliant knack for writing continuously around the same theme.

    I definitely believe the short form is experiencing a revival and it is writer’s like Ogawa who will entice those who haven’t been fans in the past to give it a go.

    • Thanks so much for mentioning that collection. Well, I’m a huge fan of short stories and very short stories but I think there really is a growing interest.
      Emma Donoghue has written a book of fairy tale retellings which works like this, one element, or rather one perosn is carried over from one story to the next.
      I’ll put Ogawa on th wish list right away. Thanks.

      • That’s interesting about Donoghue’s books, I think carrying a character over is an interesting device that will attract lovers of the novel, because it eliminates that more extreme cut between stories that exists otherwise, it is enough of a thread to keep them wondering who or what might appear in the next story. But I think it is better that they are packaged as stories, not as a novel, some felt a little deceived for example by Colum McCaan’s book Let the Great World Spin, unclear whether it was one or the other.

        • It’s far harder to sell short story collections that’s why some try to sell them as novels. Readers resent that. It feels a bit dishonest to those who prefer novels.
          I didn’t know that about McCaan’s book. I haven’t read it yet. I’ve read a few of his books and liked all of them.

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