The best short stories are constantly underrated because they’re less lucrative than novels and have the tendency to fall into a literary no-man’s land. There is a bunch of ridiculously good British stories, absolute gems, out there.
- When the Door Closed It Was Dark, by Alison Moore
The plot starts off with a young woman who starts a new job and the writer communicates an atmosphere that creeps up on you by sub texting everything. It is quite hard to tell exactly what you feel throughout the reading but the ending is grim and unexpected.
- The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author whose novel won the Pulitzer Prize. The Refugees deals with the individual subject of the exile of a refugee woman who cannot stop dreaming of her brother who died, but also a young Vietnamese discovering an outlet for his suppressed homosexuality.
- Victory Lap, by George Saunders
With George Saunders’s story, he was clearly using his gifts for the character, pushing himself to something harder and humane. This story has to do with two teenage protagonists, a lovely character study combined with an action tale, offering thus a response to the dilemma of finishing off with a happy or sad ending.
- Half-mown Law, by Dan Powell
Published in The Best British Short Stories, as a real tear-jerker, it’s actually about a widow who tries to come to terms with her husband’s death. This poignant and simple-written story is full of descriptions of the in her day-to-day life and lets out a feeling of realism combined with heartbreaking sorrow.
- Books and Roses, by Helen Oyeyemi
About an abandoned baby with a note and a golden key at her neck, the story is mysterious to begin with. Oyeyemi has a way with the description of a world dazzled with symbolism and puzzles. It’s one of those stories when, after the finish, you’ll need to read back some passages in the search of clues.
- Public Library and Other Stories, by Ali Smith
Penguin’s book is quite a celebration of libraries and books, as Smith’s characters buy them and browse through bookshelves in this pursuit. Providing gloomy and plausible glimpses of Britain, the book seems to act as a defense of a philosophy for bookworms. This one is a must read fiction!
- Pee on Water, by Rachel B Glaser
With a more expansive sense of a possibility, it begins at the dawn of time and is full of majestically beautiful sentences.
- The Sea in Birmingham, by Mick Scully
Published in The Best British Short Stories, it has some important ingredients of a short story, but also a standout the final line, that seems to stick with you long after it’s over. The story is unsettling and brilliantly written with tales of crime of great effect.
- Feather Girls, by Claire Massey
One of Massey’s shortest stories, it features a mysterious and vivid village, impressively painted as a dark and magical fairytale, with girls who transform from swans and men who try to catch their coats.