Monday, May 26, 2014

The Short Story Genre - Rising from the Ashes?


The momentum has been building for months now since Alice Munro's received the Nobel Prize for Literature in October, 2013. Never heard of her?  Maybe because her genre is the short story.  Maybe because she is Canadian.  Or just maybe no one really wants to admit that they read short stories.

Munro has spent a lifetime writing short stories and now, well into her senior years has garnered the most coveted prize in the world. 

How did she do it?  Well, she never gave up and continued writing short stories even when everyone else declared the genre "dead on arrival".  For decades, Munro has had a passion for the genre and now has finally been rewarded for it.

Prior to Munro's Nobel Prize win, Lydia Davis won the Man Booker International Prize, a decision that took the literary world by storm. While two successive prizes for the short story genre might be considered a coincidence, the revival of the short story was cemented when George Saunders won the inaugural Folio Prize at the beginning of 2014 for "Tenth of December".

If this was not enough confirmation of the rise in popularity of the short story, there is another tide on the horizon - a growing number of famous novel writers (including Stephen King) have short story offerings currently available that have been met with rave reviews.

Most literary critics and book publishers say that short stories don’t sell. But I beg to differ. According to The Bookseller (the trade magazine for the publishing industry), short story sales rose 35 per cent in 2013!  This was before Munro, Davis and Saunders won their awards.

So what is up with the short story genre?  Is it seeing a revival?  Is it rising from the ashes like a Phoenix as a modern form and worthy of accolades?  Is it now time for authors to get out there and write more short stories?

In my humble opinion, I believe the answer is a resounding "YES!" to all of these questions.

I may be biased because I love writing and reading short stories. But upon deeper reflection, I have come to realize the short story genre is an "underdog" in literary circles and I most always root for the underdog.

I also believe that the short attention span of most of us in this day and age makes the short story a perfect fit for casual reading in short spans of time in our daily lives.

Only time will tell if this is indeed a tsunami of popularity for the short story or just a ripple in the waters. Regardless of the outcome, I will continue writing short stories because I love them and that is what I am destined to do.


  1. Short stories may just be the underdog but I know you write them beautifully!!! Great post!

  2. I'm totally with you on this and, as I write flash, the shorter the better. :) I'm currently reading the collections of Amy Hempel and Lydia Davis. Heaven! Stop by my blog and join in my 25-word hint fiction challenge just for fun.

    1. We short story writers have to stick together. :-) Will join in your 25-word hint fiction challenge very shortly.

  3. I am all about the short story. At this time I have no desire to write anything longer than a novella, but most of the time I spend my time under 2000 words.

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Jon. :-)