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‘The Privilege of the Happy Ending’ by Kij Johnson

Johnson plumbs great depths in her third short story collection, full of bittersweet tales of the fantastic. This pleasingly varied anthology of fantasy and homage collects 14 works, many of which were previously published elsewhere, including the Nebula and Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award–winning “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.” … While the entries are uniformly excellent in pacing and prose, the standouts may be the collection’s opener and closer. “Tool-Using Mimics” spins out a half-dozen explanations for a vintage photo of a young girl with tentacles that lead to piercing questions about how much we can know about the past, other species, and each other. The titular novella, which also won a World Fantasy Award, is a compelling fairy tale about a little orphan girl and her talking hen that poignantly interrogates the ways we determine which stories take center stage. Read more

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The Master Fabulist of American Fiction

Millhauser reminds you of Borges sometimes, of Calvino and Angela Carter at other times, even of Nabokov once in a while. What sets him apart from other writers these days is that he’s a fabulist of a particular sort: his stories take place, for the most part, neither in the real world nor in one that’s wholly fantastical but someplace in between. Millhauser has a Nicholson Baker-like gift for meticulous, closeup description of the ordinary, but his world is also one that may be inhabited by ghosts, a realm where paintings and postcards come to life, where people can vanish or fly on carpets, and where it’s possible for someone to cohabitate with a frog. Read more

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‘Witness’ by Jamel Brinkley

Brinkley is a writer whose versatility knows no boundaries. He can make you laugh, cry, contemplate life’s deepest questions, remember what it was like to be a child, and feel the warmth, or chill, of your own family history. Tapping into the sticky stuff of humanity, each story is a gift of the highest quality, reminding us that we are all both in the audience and on life’s stage, even if we don’t know it. Forever the witness and the witnessed. Read more

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‘The Beast You Are’ by Paul Tremblay

Smart, self-aware, fun, creepy, and strange, The Beast You Are is even better than the outstanding Growing Things — and it further cements Tremblay as one of the finest voices in modern horror fiction as well as a dazzling innovator of the short form regardless of genre. Read more

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Ling Ma’s ‘Bliss Montage’ Wins $20,000 Story Prize

Ling Ma’s “Bliss Montage,” a collection which blends the real and the surreal, has won the Story Prize for best short fiction … The two other finalists, Andrea Barrett for “Natural History” and Morgan Talty for “Night of the Living Rez,” each will get $5,000. Read more

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Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

Talty’s prose is flawless throughout; he writes with a straightforward leanness that will likely appeal to admirers of Thom Jones or Denis Johnson. But his style is all his own, as is his immense sense of compassion. Night of the Living Rez is a stunning look at a family navigating their lives through crisis — it’s a shockingly strong debut, sure, but it’s also a masterwork by a major talent. Read more

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