Edited by Laura Furman
Anchor, $15.95, 496 pages

This book collects the best literary fiction of the year as chosen by a panel of distinguished judges into one volume. It includes a short introductory essay to give the reader a sense of each of the stories and authors. It also has a short essay by each of the judges on their favorite story, and in some cases, their selection process. This book is a lovely, solid paperback, and it is a nice way to be able to read these stories if you don’t have the money or energy to subscribe to multiple literary magazines.

The stories in this collection are all beautifully crafted, and each is touching in its own way. However, because these are literary stories, they’re not particularly easy to approach. This is not the kind of book you can read for five minutes before bed and expect to get something out of. Also, contemporary literature struggles with happy endings, so these are not necessarily stories that will make you smile or give you a brighter view of humanity. Nevertheless, many of these stories and characters are still with me, and I can’t stop thinking about them. If you are the kind of person that aspires to read long Russian novels, but just can’t seem to manage it, these stories will leave you feeling virtuous, and you will actually finish them.

Reviewed by Katie Richards