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20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker Paperback – November 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The sweep of the storytellers included on this list is extraordinary . . . These 20 stories reassure us of the vitality of fiction today and are a testament to its necessity.” —Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune
 
“One volume, then, that hits it out of the park.” —Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
 
“[T]his anthology is oddly uplifting and often transcends both charm and precociousness. If this is the future, the kids are all right.” —William J. Cobb, Dallas Morning News
 
“One can't predict how these writers will handle whatever fame and fortune come their way. But the talent on display - and what its editors refer to as the "clear sense of ambition" characterizing this volume's best selections - will spur any reader to reach back for what these writers already have done, while eagerly awaiting their work to come.” —Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
 
“In 1999, the last time The New Yorker compiled a list of young writers destined to shake up the literary landscape, the names included Jonathan Franzen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie, David Foster Wallace, Edwidge Danticat, Michael Chabon and George Saunders, all of whom subsequently made tremendous impressions on the world of arts and culture. There’s no telling if the new crop of authors featured in 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker will fare as well, but there’s great promise in most of their stories gathered here . . . 20 Under 40 offers a unique perspective into the future of fiction.”   —Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
 
“Of the 20 writers whose short fiction Treisman has gathered here, all are extremely accomplished, even gifted, and some already have a following of devoted readers.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR.org
 
“If anyone knows who's who in fiction, it’s The New Yorker. So we're loving their new compilation of stories from their buzzy ‘20 Under 40’— the young writers whose names will be on everyone’s lips in the next few years, if they’re not already.” —Marie Claire
 
“We seem to have entered a golden age of the short-story anthology, if the proliferation of annual and themed collections is any indication.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“A terrific guide to good reading today. Get even if you subscribe to The New Yorker; great for reading groups, hungry literati, students, and naysayers who must be shown that fiction is not dead.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

About the Author

Deborah Treisman has been the fiction editor of The New Yorker since 2003, and was deputy fiction editor for five years prior to that.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Original edition (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374532877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374532871
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Tyler on August 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book eagerly, then hopefully, and finally only with determination to finish what I had started. I would finish this book even though I didn't want to. Quick background info: The book is composed of 20 short stories written by various authors from as varying backgrounds as could be possible. Selections were made by editors of the "New Yorker."

Good: The stories make you think. They present the world in a challenging way. Time after time, characters in the stories make startling decisions that, almost inevitably, make you hope you would do better, be wiser.

Bad: Either the editors that chose the selections have a terrificly depressing world-view, or the current state of literary fiction and the people who comprise it have a negative bent. Without exception, every story in this book is depressing, and in some cases, horrifically so. There is no light to the darkness, no good to the bad. Humans are inherently mean, self-centered, evil, and devoid of concious, and in the rare case that an author in this compilation presents a character who is not those things, then that character is devastatingly ruined, either by external forces or people. Don't get me wrong, life is tragic, and in any good story tragedy must occur. But the good authors, and especially the great authors are always able to exact some salvation for the protagonists. Think "Anna Karenina" - even in her death a sense of redemption can be found. Think of "Oliver Twist." The scope of tragedy in that story outstrips any in this book, but in "Twist" not all is lost. Reading this book, though, there radiates only bleakness. Only tragedy, only horrible decisions. You don't even get the pleasure of seeing the failures engender learning. All but two of the stories are tragic, purely for tragedy's sake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Duane Schneider on July 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
People are always going to quibble over the choices of whom to include in an anthology of this sort, but overall I think the New Yorker editors and Deborah Treisman in particular did a great job with their selections. I'm somewhat surprised Nam Le isn't on the list, but his exclusion doesn't diminish the collection's value. As I read, I reminded myself that this was not a best-of set; these are not necessarily the writers' strongest stories but are instead an introduction to their work. One would hope these authors' best fiction lies ahead of them. As Treisman alludes to in the introduction, these pieces may have simply been those available at the time the anthology was assembled. (Take Wells Tower, for instance, whose story "The Landlord" is good but doesn't seem as rich in its language or as nuanced as the stories in his collection "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.") That said, there are some amazing stories here. Chris Adrian continues to mine the themes of children and religion with wonderful results. Joshua Ferris seems determined to be labeled a novelist, understandably, but he's also an incredible story writer. In his story here, "The Pilot," as well as in another story published by the New Yorker, "The Dinner Party," he takes characters in crisis mode and thrusts them into social situations; the resulting awkwardness creates a palpable tension in the stories. The standout pieces in this collection appear to be those that thrive on detail and character to evoke a specific time and place: "What You Do Out Here, When You're Alone," by Philipp Meyer; "Blue Water Djinn," by Tea Obreht; "Dayward," by ZZ Packer; "The Dredgeman's Revelation," by Karen Russell; and "The Kid," by Salvatore Scibona. These are the stories that form the heart of the collection.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The stories are very well written. The talent of the authors is definitely not in question, but not a single story has a happy ending, many of them are horrifying, the rest just dark or depressing. It's fiction, but it had me thinking how people in real life are capable of some similarly horrible things, and there are several stories that are surprisingly disturbing in this book. Maybe that was the point. I kept reading to the end, holding out hope that there was going to be something positive in a story or two, but there was not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sivakumar Tadikonda on July 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
5 of the "stories" are actually excerpts from the books the authors were working on. You have to read the fine print in one page at the beginning of the book to actually to understand this. The editors may have tried their best to select a part that can be considered as an end in itself, but, this will work with some readers only if they subscribe to the philosophy that how you got there is more important than the destination itself. This is nothing to take away from the authors who wrote well.
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