Five Australian Short-Story Collections We Loved in 2013
Here are five of our favourite short-story collections published over the past year, all from Australian authors.
Transactions by Ali Alizadeh
A spoiled Emirati rich girl, an Iranian asylum seeker in Amsterdam, a Liberian refugee seeking aid from a charity, a Ukrainian prostitute, a Danish sex trafficker, a Chinese gamer.
Alizadeh’s characters live on the edge of what is considered civilised society, often caught between East and West, in the web of global politics. Fresh and adventurous, this absorbing story cycle melds themes of love, exploration, globalisation, war and poverty, offering a provocative an panoramic view of contemporary life.
The Double (And Other Stories) by Maria Takolander
A student travels to Estonia to investigate his violent father’s upbringing. A woman is possessed by visions of her brother’s brutal death at a lake in Finland. A bride plumbs the depths of her loathing for her husband on a journey across Africa. A lonely boy is haunted by nightmares of a new classmate who has an affair with their teacher.
Each of the stories in The Double is unnerving, and unforgettable. Ranging from rural Australia to Northern Europe and beyond, from the dark past of the Soviet era to a terrifying vision of the near future, this collection marks the arrival of a unique and bewitching talent.
We are Not the Same Anymore by Chris Somerville
In these stories, Chris Somerville plays out the small catastrophes of everyday life, cutting his characters adrift in the uneasiness that ensues. A man turns up at his daughter’s birthday party with a goldfish in an ice-cream container. On the way to collect firewood, a woman and her teenaged neighbour crash in a snowstorm. An unwilling son helps his sister and father put up posters for a missing dog named Michael.
Familiar and endearing, Somerville’s characters are consumed with their own neuroses, and through their eyes, the landscape of the domestic becomes surreal and dully terrifying. Suffused with a dark humour, their struggles for intimacy are recreated on the page with a deft and affectionate touch.
An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman
For a long time Western Sydney has been the political flash-point of the nation, but it has been absent from Australian literature. Luke Carman’s first book of fiction is about to change all that: a collection of monologues and stories which tells it how it is on Australia’s cultural frontier.
His young, self-conscious but determined hero navigates his way through the complications of his divorced family, and an often perilous social world, with its Fobs, Lebbos, Greek, Serbs, Grubby Boys and scumbag Aussies, friends and enemies. He loves Whitman and Kerouac, Leonard Cohen and Henry Rollins, is awkward with girls, and has an imaginary friend called Tom. His sensitivity in a tough environment makes life difficult for him - he is anything but an elegant young man.
Carman’s style is packed with thought and energy: it captures the voices of the street, and conveys fear and anger, beauty and affection, with a restless intensity.
The Best Australian Stories 2013 edited by Kim Scott
In The Best Australian Stories 2013, Kim Scott assembles the most exceptional short fiction of the last year and invites readers to build ‘a rare and intimate relationship’ with these talented writers, one that is ‘essential to storytelling in print, whether on paper or screen.‘
These stories conjure disparate moods, from delight to melancholy. A family Christmas lays bare a relationship grown cold. A father pursues the art of the birdcall in an effort to speak his son’s language. A cat becomes a conduit for a neighbour’s true feelings while Brisbane floods. Striking new voices blend seamlessly with those of celebrated storytellers to form a collection that will leave an indelible impression long after the last word is read.
And a special mention for New Zealand…
Between My Father and the King by Janet Frame
This brand new collection of 28 short stories by Janet Frame spans the length of her career and contains some of the best she wrote. None of these stories has been published in a collection before, and more than half are published for the first time in Between My Father and the King.
In these stories readers will recognise familiar themes, scenes, characters and locations from Frame’s writing and life, and each offers a fresh fictional transformation that will captivate and absorb. Unlike many great writers who die leaving minor scraps of literature, Frame left a veritable treasure trove of stories and poems for her estate to manage after her death.