The top five stories of the week from the past year demonstrate that literary excellence and intense emotional experiences don’t depend on length. In one short short story, two children look on as their mother faces a sudden life-threatening circumstance; and in another short short, love, politics, and desperation intertwine in a brief love affair. These pieces stand side by side with longer stories. In one a young French mother navigates the world of Paris intellectuals, with their complex ideas and casually passionate relationships; in another, a Soviet Jew competes in a chess tournament in Buenos Aires against Israelis, and the thought of defection tempts him. Together, these five stories represent vibrant work by emerging and established writers. We hope you enjoy them. Please share your comments in the Reader Comments area for each story.
Here I am, stuck with a little daughter and a male lover.
“You’re not a maid,” he said. “You’re a vandal.”
No one had ever whispered my name the way he whispered it.
2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Mama finally got quiet, and then we couldn’t wake her.
In chess as in love, openings could be only so original.