The best collections of microfiction for those with limited time to read

Ran Walker Author Of The Library of Afro Curiosities: 100-Word Stories
By Ran Walker

Who am I?

I am the author of ten collections of microfiction and poetry. I came to microfiction after having written several novels and short story collections. I just felt that I was saying more than I wanted to say. Microfiction has allowed me to completely distill my stories to the essence of what makes them tick. Of the 26 books I have written, the microfiction collections are my favorites because every word and idea is carefully measured. I am presently working on my next collection of microfiction and have no immediate plans to return to writing at longer lengths. Oddly, writing small has freed me up so I can experiment with various genres, structures, and ideas. I honestly feel microfiction has made me a much better writer.

I wrote...

The Library of Afro Curiosities: 100-Word Stories

By Ran Walker,

Book cover of The Library of Afro Curiosities: 100-Word Stories

What is my book about?

A young boy wrestles with what it means to have long hair. A woman finds herself accepting a relationship she knows is not good for her. A generation of successful graduates places greater value on materialism than love. Aliens and more aliens. Mystery. Intrigue. Love (and love lost). And, yes, Blackness. All in one hundred 100-word stories.

In Ran Walker's latest collection of 100-word stories, he leaves few stones unturned as he pushes the limits of the form in engaging, surprising, and even humorous ways. Welcome to The Library of Afro Curiosities.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Fissures: One Hundred 100-Word Stories

Why did I love this book?

Prior to reading this book, I was unfamiliar with 100-word stories (or drabbles). Even more, I had never seen a book that consisted entirely of 100-word stories before. Each one was a distinct and thorough world unto itself. It was through this book that I began to understand the possibilities for the 100-word form. If it were not for this book, I might have never really pushed myself to understand, appreciate, and write microfiction.

By Grant Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fissures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Fissures, a collection of one hundred 100-word stories, Grant Faulkner uses the hard borders of the 100-word story form to evocatively capture the drama of the lacunae we live in, whether it's the gulf between a loved one, the natural world, or God.

"I've always thought life is more about what is unsaid than what is said," he says. "We live in odd gaps of silence, irremediable interstices that sometimes last forever. A lingering glance averted. The lover who slams the door and runs away. Unsent letters."

Faulkner, the executive director of National Novel Writing Month and the co-founder…

Without a Net

By Ana Maria Shua,

Book cover of Without a Net

Why did I love this book?

It was hard to settle on a single book by Shua, who is widely considered the “Queen of South American Microfiction,” because her work is just so good. Without a Net is one of her two microfiction collections translated into English. This one deals with characters from circuses and carnivals and is an astonishing collection of microfiction. Each carefully chosen word resonates and illustrates the power of the form. This is a book I would want to have with me if I could only take one book with me on a weeks-long trip.

By Ana Maria Shua,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Without a Net as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fiction. Latino/Latina Studies. Translated from the Spanish by Steven J. Stewart. "Ana María Shua's microfictions reveal oneiric universes, multiform realties, secret worlds with the unlikely coherence of the absurd, the amorphous logic of the imagination. They are characterized by the most unique form of concise language and the omnipresence of humor."—Raúl Brasca


By John Edgar Wideman,

Book cover of Briefs

Why did I love this book?

John Edgar Wideman is the first African-American writer I can clearly point to who took microfiction seriously enough to write an entire collection. His stories are filtered through the lens of Blackness, but that is not the major reason why I like this book. Wideman does things with language that force me to completely step back and rethink things. I find myself reading his words aloud, simply because they feel as though they transcend the page. If it were not for Wideman, I would not feel as comfortable revealing the authenticity of my experience in my work.

By John Edgar Wideman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Briefs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BRIEFS is a groundbreaking new collection of "microstories" from celebrated author John Edgar Wideman, previous winner of both the Rea and O. Henry awards saluting mastery of the short story form. Here he has assembled a masterful collage that explodes our assumptions about the genre. Wideman unveils an utterly original voice and structure-hip-hop zen-where each story is a single breath, to be caught, held, shared and savored. A relief worker's Sudan bulletin, a jogger's bullet-dodging daydreams, your neighbor's fears and fantasies, an absent mother's regrets-Wideman's storytellers are eavesdroppers and peeping Toms, diarists and haiku historians. The characters and compass points…

Book cover of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Why did I love this book?

After wading through and translating the verbosity of Proust, she challenged herself to write very tiny stories. She is a pioneer in contemporary American literature and her work deals largely with the experiences of women, particularly those in domestic situations. Her work is sharp and pointed, often poetic and resonant. Her use of language really makes you interrogate how many words you truthfully need to tell a good story. This collection combines several of her earlier collections.

By Lydia Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis is the complete collection of short fiction from the world-renowned Lydia Davis.


'Big rejoicing: Lydia Davis has won the Man Booker International prize. Never did a book award deliver such a true match-winning punch. Best of all, a new audience will read her now and find her wit, her vigour and rigour, her funniness, her thoughtfulness, and the precision of form, which mark Davis out as unique.

Daring, excitingly intelligent and often wildly comic [she] reminds you, in a world that likes to bandy its words…

Book cover of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Why did I love this book?

As a native Mississippian, I was already aware of Fennelly’s works, but this collection is my absolute favorite of her wonderful collections. She uses micro pieces to tell some of the most interesting experiences of her life (so far). Even more, she blurs the line between what is poem and what is prose. She can take a single moment in time and make it into a lesson on life and the realities of the world. I highly recommend this book if you want to see how micro writing can be used for nonfiction.

By Beth Ann Fennelly,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Heating & Cooling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of non-fiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer and deeply original observer of life's challenges and joys.

Some pieces are wistful, some wry and many reveal the humour buried in our everyday interactions. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments and awakens us to…

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