2020 Short Story Collections

Created by Bob Helmbrecht, collection development librarian

Short story collections often get overlooked when the various “best books” lists come out. In the recent “New York Times” Notable Books of 2020 list, for example, only one short story collection made the cut,

Why I Don’t Write” by Susan Minot. Some of today’s best writing can be found in short stories, however. Here are a number of fine story collections from 2020 that are worth checking out.

In these 23 stories and poems, two-time World Fantasy Award nominee Allen spins twisted narratives, some wound through the fabric of our world, some set in imagined pasts or futures, all plumbing the depths of human darkness.

  • Daddy” by Emma Cline

From the “New York Times” bestselling author of “The Girls” comes an eagerly anticipated story collection exploring the dark corners of human experience. In 10 remarkable stories, Cline portrays moments when the ordinary is disturbed, when daily life buckles, revealing the perversity and violence pulsing under the surface.

An outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African-American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives.

In two-time O. Henry-prize winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories, dreams collide with reality, modernity collides with antiquity, myth with true identity, and women grapple with desire, with ego, with motherhood and mortality. The stories travel from India to America and back again to reveal the small moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

The author’s first story collection since her prize-winning book “The Isle of Youth” draws readers into a world of wholly original, sideways ghost stories that linger in the mouth and the mind. Both timeless and urgent, these eleven stories confront misogyny, violence, and the impossible economics of America with van den Berg’s trademark spiky humor and surreal eye.

  • Igifu” by Scholastique Mukasonga

An intense and personal collection of stories about grief and survival, spanning pre- and post- genocide Rwanda. Her autobiographical stories rend a glorious Rwanda from the obliterating force of recent history, conjuring the noble cows of her home or the dew-swollen grass they graze on.

This debut collection brings you flippant wish-granting fish, flying tigers, foul-mouthed fairies, rogue robots, vengeful trees, medical dreams, interstellar squirrels, murderous teddy bears, magic-helmet-wearing rollergirls, rampaging aliens, a dash of eldritch horror, and a sprinkle of ghosts.

Widely acclaimed for her blisteringly smart voice and x-ray insights into complex human relationships, Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters’ lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. 

Pulitzer Prize winner and “New York Times” bestselling author Ford enacts a stunning meditation on memory, love and loss. A landmark new collection that showcases his brilliance, sensitivity, and trademark wit and candor, from one of our greatest writers. 

In one of her strongest works of fiction yet, Krauss plunges fearlessly into the struggle to understand what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman, and the arising tensions that have existed from the very beginning of time. Profound, poignant, and brilliant, Krauss’s stories are at once startling and deeply moving, but always revealing of all-too-human weakness and strength. 

From this “New York Times” bestselling author comes a short story collection of captivating visions of the future and incredible re-imaginings of the past. Never before published in English, these stories came into being during decades of major change in China and will take you across time and space through the eyes of one of science fiction’s most visionary writers.

A wonderfully warm and inventive collection from an award-winning and Pushcart Prize-nominated author. “Universal Love” welcomes readers to a near-future world where our everyday technologies have fundamentally altered the possibilities and limits of how we love one another.