The Short Story is Dead! Long Live the Short Story!

photo by Chema ^^

Chris Power’s monthly series, A Brief Survey of the Short Story, appears in the Guardian. He is working on a collection of short stories.


In this downloadable essay, Chris Power discusses the state of the short story and why the dominant narrative of imminent death or blazing renaissance should be rejected.



The Short Story is Dead!
Long Live the Short Story!

by Chris Power

© Chris Power 2014


‘Last night George Saunders won the inaugural Folio Prize for his short-story collection Tenth of December. Navigating to the Guardian’s report on the win, I scroll in search of the question I’m sure will be there. I find it about halfway down: “After the Nobel prize given to Alice Munro, Saunders was asked if short stories were finally getting their due”. It’s something I imagine George Saunders has been asked many times, because it’s the unavoidable narrative of the short story as neglected form, the foundling on the steps of literature that needs fattening on the pap of prizes and occasional breakout commercial success. When Lydia Davis wins the Man Booker International Prize, Alice Munro the Nobel, or George Saunders the Folio Prize, one of the first questions asked is whether this represents a renaissance for the short story…’ Keep reading>>


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5 thoughts on “The Short Story is Dead! Long Live the Short Story!

  1. Excellent article, sensible and level-headed. It does seem at first glance that the short story is the perfect form for time-poor readers, but as he points out, it needs more powerful concentration than the novel. A novel can be read in short bursts on the bus, last thing in bed, waiting for the doctor’s; but you can’t read a short story like that. And I think he’s absolutely right about reviews banging on about the form itself rather than the story they are supposed to be reviewing. I’ve been guilty of that myself – but no more.
    The thing I love about the short story, both as a writer and as a reader, is the demands it makes. Every word must count; it pushes you into corners where you have to say the thing you want as economically and as elegantly as possible. So yes, long live the short story – but I don’t think it will ever die

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