The Best American Short Stories 2008

( 11 )

Overview

This brilliant collection, edited by the award-winning and perennially
provocative Salman Rushdie, boasts a "magnificent array" (Library
Journal) of voices both new and recognized.With Rushdie at the helm,
the 2008 edition "reflects the variety of substance and style and ...
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Overview

This brilliant collection, edited by the award-winning and perennially
provocative Salman Rushdie, boasts a "magnificent array" (Library
Journal) of voices both new and recognized.With Rushdie at the helm,
the 2008 edition "reflects the variety of substance and style and the consistent quality that readers have come to expect" (Publishers Weekly).

Contributors include T. C. Boyle, Allegra Goodman, Nicole Krauss,
Steven Millhauser, Jonathan Lethem, Karen Russell, and others.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Salman Rushdie selects the best 20 stories of the year. Alice Munro offers a chilling tale, "Child's Play," of two young girls who drown a fellow camper while away for the summer, an act which drives the fast friends apart. In T.C. Boyle's "Admiral," a college graduate returns to her high-school dogsitting job only to find that the dog is not quite the same as when she'd left it. Rather, the owners have cloned him, which leaves the lonely narrator in a quandary when she is wooed by a handsome young animal-rights activist. With "Galatea," Karen Brown enters the mind of a young woman who has unknowingly become seduced by, and quickly marries, a small-town stalker who takes pleasure in entering the homes of young women. Allegra Goodman's tragedy "Closely Held" is quieter, chronicling the slow demise of both the dreams and the relationship of a brilliant computer programmer. And Kevin Brockmeier, departing from realism, wonders what would happen if the world suddenly became silent ("The Year of Silence"). Perhaps the most harrowing story comes from A.M. Homes. In "May We Be Forgiven," the vitriolic relationship between two aging brothers becomes explosive after a tragic accident. When the brother responsible for the accident returns home from a mental hospital, he finds his sibling in a compromising position and lashes out. A bleak but brilliant collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618788774
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/8/2008
  • Series: Best American Short Stories Series
  • Pages: 386
  • Sales rank: 1,302,651
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Salman Rushdie

HEIDI PITLOR is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been the series editor for The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of The Birthdays and a forthcoming novel titled The Daylight Marriage.

Biography

Born in Mumbai, India, and educated in the U.K., multi-award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie is considered one of the most important and influential writers of contemporary English-language fiction.

Rushdie freelanced for two London advertising firms before turning to a full-time writing career. He made his literary debut in 1975 with Grimus, a sci-fi fantasy that made a very small splash in publishing circles. However, he hit the jackpot with his second novel, Midnight's Children, an ambitious allegory that parallels the turbulent history of India before and after partition. Widely considered Rushdie's magnum opus, Midnight's Children was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981. (Twelve years later, a panel of judges named it the best overall novel to have won the Booker Prize since the award's inception in 1975; and in 2005, Time included it on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.)

Undoubtedly, though, the book that put Rushdie squarely on the cultural radar screen was The Satanic Verses. Published in 1988 and partially inspired by the life of the prophet Muhammad, this erudite study of good and evil won the Whitbread Book Award, but achieved far more notoriety when Muslim fundamentalists condemned it for its blasphemous portrayal of Islam. The book was banned in many Muslim countries, a fatwa was issued by the Iranian Ayatollah, and a multimillion dollar bounty was placed on Rushdie's head. The novelist spent much of the 1990s in hiding, under the protection of the British government. (In 1998, Iran officially lifted the fatwa, but threats against Rushdie's life still reverberate throughout the Muslim world.)

Even without the controversy inspired by The Satanic Verses, Rushdie's literary fame would be assured. His novels comprise a unique body of work that draws from fantasy, mythology, religion, and magic realism, blending them all with staggering imagination and comic brilliance. He has created his own idiom, pushing the boundaries of language with dazzling wordplay and a widely admired "chutnification" of history. His books have won most major awards in Europe and the U.K. and have garnered praise from critics around the world. Britain's Financial Times called him "Our most exhilaratingly inventive prose stylist." Time magazine raved, "No novelist currently writing in English does so with more energy, intelligence and allusiveness than Rushdie." And the writer Christopher Hitchens lamented in the Progressive that were it not for the death threats against him, Rushdie would surely be a Nobel laureate by now.

In addition to his bestselling novels, Rushdie has also produced essays, criticism, and a book of children's fiction. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The citation reads: "Ahmed Salman Rushdie -- author, for services to literature."

Good To Know

Rushdie was short-listed for The Literary Review's Bad Sex Award in 1995 for The Moor's Last Sigh, which included such verses as "For ever they sweated pepper ‘n' spices sweat."

Rushdie participated in a two-day, U.S. State Department conference entitled "Why Do They Hate Us?" for 50 diplomats in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rushdie's first novel was a literate sci-fi fantasy entitled Grimus. Although it made only a very small splash in publishing circles, the book was deemed outstanding enough to be selected by a panel of distinguished writers (including Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, and Arthur C. Clarke) as the best science fiction novel of 1975. However, at the last minute, his publishers withdrew the book from consideration, fearing that, if he won, Rushdie would never be able to shake the label of "genre writer."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ahmed Salman Rushdie
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 19, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bombay, Maharashtra, India
    1. Education:
      M.A. in History, King's College, University of Cambridge

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Yearly Short Story Feast

    I am a total fan of "The Best American Short Stories" series, including the current offering. The quality of the writing is excellent. The story subjects are so varied that anyone who reads the book is sure to find at least one favorite amoung them.

    I have been buying these books yearly since 2004. I recommend them to anyone who enjoys reading a good short story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2009

    The Best American Short Stories

    Excellent collection of short stories. Most were absorbing and left
    me begging for more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 4, 2009

    Humorless Collection

    I've been reading these collections for a number of years, now. I think this is one of the most humorless collections; not just in this series but among any short story collections I've read in a long, long time. I don't know if it's Rushdie or the world situation in 2008. I don't expect a bunch of mindless happiness, or fairy tale endings. But trudging through tale after tale with utter lack of joy actually got a bit boring.

    I also found them to be a bit mundane--another adjective I would not use is "irreverent." I read the collections from which some of these stories were selected. I found other stories in these books far more interesting than the ones selected for this anthology.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted August 26, 2009

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    Posted January 21, 2010

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    Posted January 24, 2010

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    Posted August 15, 2009

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    Posted March 12, 2010

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