This post is part of the #ReadMoreLatam2021 Challenge. Click here for more info.
The challenge for this month is to read a Latin American short story collection.
Yes, short stories for the shortest month of the year. Very original, Lauren!
I really enjoy reading short stories, so it always surprises me when people aren’t big fans of the form. In fact, one of my favourite writers is Jhumpa Lahiri, whose mastery of the short story form just seems unfair tbh.
But it especially surprises me when people just “don’t read short stories”.
This is strange to me, given that short stories are literally ideal for when you want to immerse yourself in a book at 11pm on a Wednesday, but really can’t be arsed to crack the spine on that 900-page doorstop you’ve had on your bedside table since 2008.
They’re great for commutes – remember those? – as they don’t suffer too much from the thread-breaking stops and starts of short journeys like longer works of fiction.
Personally, I like to use short story collections as circuit breakers when I’m in a reading rut or simply want to maximise my downtime and read more than one book at once. Pair a novel with a suitably different-in-style set of short stories and you’ll soon be pinballing between the two with ease.
What is a short story, then? According to my old friend, the internet, a short story is a complete narrative that’s shorter than a novella (short novel) or standard novel. It can be read in under an hour and generally tops out at 7500 words.
Of course, these definitions are entirely flexible. In fact, many of the short story collection recommendations below (notably Amora) play with the boundaries of the short story form.
As far as this month’s recommendations go, I’ve selected a mix of short stories from standalone writers as well as some collections which include short stories from a number of writers. Some of these collections are organised thematically, by country or region, which is great if you can’t set your heart on an author in particular or want to get a broader feel for the storytelling tendencies of, say, Cuban writers.
(As always, the recommendations include books I’ve read, books I’ve reviewed, or simply books I want to read and review.)
Love, Anger, Madness by Marie Vieux-Chauvet, trans. Rose-Myriam Réjouis and Val Vinokur (this is technically a triptych of novellas)
Cubana edited by Mirta Yáñez (a collection of short stories by Cuban writers in English)
I’ll be reading: Cockfight by María Fernanda Ampuero, trans. Frances Riddle
Update: Read my review of Cockfight here!