The Sacred Door and Other Stories: Cameroon Folktales of the Beba offers readers a selection of folktales infused with riddles, proverbs, songs, myths, and legends, using various narrative techniques that capture the vibrancy of Beba oral traditions. Makuchi retells the stories that she heard at home when she was growing up in her native Cameroon.
The collection of thirty-four folktales of the Beba showcases a wide variety of stories that capture the richness and complexities of an agrarian society’s oral literature and traditions. Revenge, greed, and deception are among the themes that frame the story lines in both new and familiar ways. In the title story, a poor man finds himself elevated to king. The condition for his continued success is that he not open the sacred door. This tale of temptation, similar to the story of Pandora’s box, concludes with the question, “What would you have done?”
Makuchi relates the stories her mother told her so that readers can make connections between African and North American oral narrative traditions. These tales reinforce the commonalities of our human experiences without discounting our differences.
Named a New York Times Notable Book
Winner of the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize
Winner of the Anne Frank Prize
These shattering stories describe the lives of ordinary people as they are compelled to do the unimaginable: a couple who must decide what to do with their five-year-old daughter as the Gestapo come to march them out of town; a wife whose safety depends on her acquiescence in her husband's love affair; a girl who must pay a grim price for an Aryan identity card.
The author asks a big question: Who is responsible? One person in need of this information is Lon, who wonders why his marriage is falling apart. Lon thought his wife would re-initiate intimacy at some point. She doesn’t, and he sets out to find the man he thinks stands between them but only finds an apparition—and he still can’t fix his marriage.
In another story, the LDS prophet is drawn to s simpler time when he could wander out unnoticed and buy a candy bar. Church Security won’t let him outside on his own and Public Relations won’t let him wear anything but a suit and tie. Still, the impulse to be a regular guy for an afternoon is compelling. Can’t he make his own decisions? He can, but what are the consequences?
And then there’s Jerry, who passes three men in suits who are talking and laughing at the loading dock behind an LDS temple. One of them looks up, drops a cigarette and crushes it, then slips into a nearby car. Another man—someone who has made Jerry’s life miserable—taunts him, saying: “Jerry, your goodness is your enemy …and tell all your friends.” Who is responsible? Maybe it’s the author’s reverie that’s to blame, but his stories have a way of getting deep inside the psyche and haunting us.
Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories brings together nineteen stories that span Hisaye Yamamoto's forty-year career. It was her first book to be published in the United States. Yamamoto's themes include the cultural conflicts between the first generation, the Issei, and their children, the Nisei; coping with prejudice; and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.
In addition to the contents of the original volume, this edition brings back into print the following works:
- Death Rides the Rails to Poston
- A Fire in Fontana
- Florentine Gardens
Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories brings together fifteen stories that span Hisaye Yamamoto's forty-year career. It was her first book to be published in the United States. Yamamoto's themes include the cultural conflicts between the first generation, the Issei and their children, the Nisei; coping with prejudice; and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.
Shamara and Other Stories
Svetlana Vasilenko Northwestern University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PG3489.3.A747A23 2000 | Dewey Decimal 891.735
This collection features Svetlana Vasilenko's novel Little Fool, nominated for the Russian Booker Prize. Rich in folklore, legend, and history, the story follows the transformation of Ganna, a girl from the Volga shores, into a modern-day Madonna. Also included are the novella "Shamara" and several short stories, including the acclaimed "Going After Goat Antelopes."
The much-loved tales from The Thousand and One Nights first appeared in English translation in the early nineteenth century, based on French translations of versions of the stories found in Syrian and Persian manuscripts. The popularity of these ancient and beguiling tales set against the backdrop of Baghdad, a city of wealth and peace, stoked the widespread enthusiasm for and scholarly interest in eastern arts and culture all across Europe.
Four of the most well-known tales, translated by Laurence Housman, are reproduced in this collector’s edition: “Sindbad the Sailor,” “Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp,” “The Story of the Three Calendars” and “The Sleeper Awakened.” Each is illustrated with exquisite watercolors by the renowned artist Edmund Dulac. The sumptuous illustrations reproduced here capture the beauty and timeless quality of these ever-fascinating stories, made at the zenith of early twentieth-century book illustration.
This is the first English-language collection of stories by the nineteenth-century writer Boleslaw Prus, who has been called the greatest Polish novelist of all time. This new book, containing twelve of his classic short pieces, explores the depth of thought, human warmth, powers of observation, and technical excellence for which he has been justly praised.
The loft of Grandpa’s barn in Salt Lake City was “off limits,” the trap door padlocked. For boys like Zack Lund, Grandpa might as well have hung out a large “welcome” sign inviting them to break in and see what was hidden there. In Parowan, young Nevada Driggs decided to discover for himself whether Captain Fremont had really slept in his grandma’s bed. Fae Decker Dix tells of how her father refused to accept the church’s newly censored version of a nineteenth-century hymn. To her embarrassment, he sang the original hellfire lyrics to O Ye Mountains High as loudly as he could above the rest of the congregation. All told, this new anthology features sixteen priceless stories: quirky and fun, informative and serious, but all engaging—nostalgic for when Utah was little more than a wide spot in the road, or as Robert Mikkelsen remembers, when both sides of the tracks were the “wrong side.”
From “The Eight Rhetorical Mode”
Later he asked, “Would you like to go for a hike sometime?” and two trains of thought left the station: He means to get to know me and we might leave the city together and it’s been a long time since I climbed a mountain. That train chugged into a wider brighter country all the time. The other train went by another route through the panicked interior. He’s a lunatic, it whistled. He’s been in and out of hospitals. He will take you to a mountaintop and throw you right off into the bright air: choo choo!
Post-divorce dating is one more cause for celebration (or a quick call in to the police) in Beth Bosworth’s revelatory new book, The Source of Life and Other Stories. The spine of this collection is a series of linked stories about Ruth Stein, a Brooklyn author whose first book has exposed her father’s abuses; while the voice here, speaking across a lifetime, ranges from bittersweet to humorous to lethal. In other stories Bosworth’s narrators—a mother left to care for her son’s suicidal dog, an editor haunted by a dog-eared manuscript—seem to grab hold of the reins and run off with their fates. Meanwhile Bosworth explores the extended family, the bonds of friendship, an apocalyptic Vermont, the rank yet redeemable Gowanus Canal; also rites of passage, race relations, divorce, middle-aged romance, dementia, funerals, alcoholism, and the Jewish religion. Reality is just another stumbling block for Bosworth’s characters, who might help themselves but don’t always choose to. There are leaps of faith here, nonetheless, as the collection dispenses a kind of narrative psychotropic for survival and redemption, with a chaser of humor mixed in.
Speed-Walk and Other Stories
Suzanne Greenberg University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3607.R4525S64 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
The characters in Speed-Walk and Other Stories often find themselves dislocated, living in places that do not resemble or feel like home. Their lives have somehow been turned on their axes, and often they cannot comprehend why. The stories in this stunning debut collection are united by their protagonists' common quest to make sense of the world, to bring it into focus, to set it right, to adapt.
In selecting Suzanne Greenberg's fiction for the 2003 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Rick Moody wrote, “A charge sometimes leveled against contemporary fiction these days is that it has abrogated its responsibility to depict civilization as it actually exists. . . . Speed-Walk replies forcefully to this aesthetic error by locating its protagonists in completely recognizable environments. . . . [They] are ever engaged by the routines of American life: walking the dog, eating at the sushi bar, doing the laundry.” Tightly written yet realistically spare, these stories provide a blueprint for survival when the unexpected is thrust into an ordinary life.
Nancy Au’s debut collection is rich with scents, sounds, imaginative leaps, and unexpected angles of vision. These seventeen stories present the challenges facing characters whose inner and outer lives often do not align, whose spirits attempt flight despite dashed hopes and lean circumstances. Marginalized by race, age, and sexuality, they endeavor to create new worlds that honor their identities and their Chinese heritage.
Au excels at inhabiting the minds and hearts of children and the elderly. In the title story, Sophie Chu dresses daily in her increasingly shabby elephant costume to ensure her missing parents recognize her upon their return. In “The Unfed,” a village elder seeks to revive, with her dimming magic, a mountain community struck by tragedy. “Louise” follows, with deceptive hilarity (involving a one-eyed duck), the nuanced give and take between May Zhou and Lai, dissimilar yet passionate partners considering parenthood. The volume also offers sparkling speculative work that taps into the strength of nature—fox spirits and fire beetles, swollen rivers and rippling clouds—to showcase the sometimes surreal transformations of Au’s protagonists.
Spider Love Song and Other Stories treads the fault line that forms between lovers, families, friends, cultures—exposing injuries and vulnerabilities, but also the strength and courage necessary to recast resentment and anger into wonder and power. Au’s lyrical style, humor, and tender attention to her characters’ fancies and failings make this powerful debut a delight to read.
A memoir in short stories, Starting from Loomis chronicles the life of accomplished writer, playwright, poet, and actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi. In this dynamic portrait of an aging writer trying to remember himself as a younger man, Kashiwagi recalls and reflects upon the moments, people, forces, mysteries, and choices—the things in his life that he cannot forget—that have made him who he is.
Central to this collection are Kashiwagi’s confinement at Tule Lake during World War II, his choice to answer “no” and “no” to questions 27 and 28 on the official government loyalty questionnaire, and the resulting lifelong stigma of being labeled a “No-No Boy” after his years of incarceration. His nonlinear, multifaceted writing not only reflects the fragmentations of memory induced by traumas of racism, forced removal, and imprisonment but also can be read as a bold personal response to the impossible conditions he and other Nisei faced throughout their lifetimes.
“The Sting of Death” and Other Stories
Shimao Toshio; Translated with an Introduction and Interpretive Comments by Kathryn Sparling University of Michigan Press, 1985 Library of Congress PL838.H57A27 1985 | Dewey Decimal 895.635
Until a recent “boom,” Shimao Toshio, writer of short fiction, critic, and essayist, was not widely known, even in Japan. He has never won the Akutagawa or the Naoki Prize, and none of his works had previously appeared in English translation. He is less well known than other writers (Yasuoka Shotaro, Kojima Nobuo, and Shono Junzo) with whom he has associated and whose works have been liberally translated into English. Yet, there are those who consider him to be one of the best contemporary writers in Japan.
This volume by no means exhausts the scope of Shimao's fiction. There are no stories here, for instance, about childhood or student life, and none of his many travel stories. Some of his most famous stories-- "When we Never Left Port," for example--have not been included. But the stories presented here do offer a considerable variety of style, from the pristine storybook language of "The Farthest Edge of the Islands," to the young intellectual's jargon of "Everyday Life in a Dream," to the visionary, hysterical, occasionally ritualistic prose of the "sick wife" stories, to the sober, difficult, almost ponderous narration of "This Time That Summer." Shimao's approach to his material varies as well. "Everyday Life in a Dream" is the only representative here of a large number of stories usually called surrealistic by the critics, stories whose plots progress by the logic of dreams. The individual experience of real life are lived through a combination of conscious and unconscious perception. These stories are the least approachable and the least charming to the casual reader, but they serve, among other things, to highlight patterns in the more realistic fiction. "The Farthest Edge of the Islands" is a symbolic heightening of reality in another way, a romantic fairy tale beginning at the extremity of experience, at the farthest edge of the world. The other stories are presented as precise, close chronicles of reality by a participant in that reality whose attention never waivers and who never allows himself to avert his eyes from a world that he sees as his responsibility and in a sense his fault. All but the first story, "The Farthest Edge of the Islands," which is in third-person narration, are told in the first person by the character who plays Shimao's role in the life that inspired the fiction.