“A perfect example of what the short story can do when the form is at its best: containing as much of an emotional blow as that of a 800-page novel, regardless of its brevity.” The Guardian awards its 4th Estate BAME short story prize to "Auld Lang Syne" by Lisa Smith. The prize was launched in 2015 in response to a report “which found that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) writers struggled both to get published and against stereotypes imposed by the UK’s overwhelmingly white publishing industry.”
In Wayde Compton’s The Outer Harbour, a series of short stories take the reader from the present day to 2025, exploring a near-future Vancouver in which things grow steadily more surreal. As Emily Oppenheimer writes, it’s clearly a work of speculative fiction, yet the setting resembles our own world in uncanny ways. Sample quote: “Compton achieves the more troubling, yet ultimately more satisfying, goal of portraying the fantastical as something that is very much rooted in what we think we already know about ourselves and our world."
Our own Kevin Hartnett has an interesting theory as to how Charles Dickens came up with the idea for A Christmas Carol. At The Boston Globe, he looks at the evidence that Dickens got inspiration from the amateur writings of millworkers in Massachusetts.
If you didn't like Elif Batuman's gut-punch to MFA writing ("Get A Real Degree") in this issue of the London Review of Books, might I suggest Jenny Diski's cudgeling of self-help lit in the LRB's Diary essay?