12 Women Who Write Amazing Short Fiction

By
Sat, 8 Sep 2018

Somewhere between the controlled brevity of poetry and the long-flowing nature of novels lies the realm of short stories. If you're looking to dive into a collection of these concise works of fiction, then this list is a great place to start. The twelve women we've gathered here have written fascinating anthologies on topics that run the gamut from starting life in a new country to dealing with infidelity. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

12 Women Who Write Amazing Short Fiction

Author Notable Works
1. Megan Mayhew Bergman Birds of a Lesser Paradise Almost Famous Women Phoenix
2. Lesley Nneka Arimah What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
3. Cristina Henriquez Come Together, Fall Apart The World in Half The Book of Unknown Americans
4. Katherine Heiny Single, Carefree, Mellow Standard Deviation
5. Mia Alvar In the Country Go Home!
6. Jennine CapĆ³ Crucet How to Leave Hialeah Make Your Home Among Strangers Ploughshares Fall 2006
7. Elisa Albert How This Night Is Different After Birth Freud's Blind Spot
8. Bonnie Jo Campbell Mothers, Tell Your Daughters American Salvage Once Upon a River
9. Elizabeth Graver Have You Seen Me? The Best American Short Stories The End of the Point
10. Jayne Anne Phillips Black Tickets Fast Lanes Machine Dreams
11. Rachel Seiffert Field Study The Dark Room A Boy in Winter
12. Lee Smith Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger Oral History The Devil's Dream

Interview With Lesley Nneka Arimah

In Depth

Short stories are an excellent read for busy people who want to get a full experience out of a single sitting. And engaging in a collection takes readers on multiple journeys that often revolve around a common theme. While research shows that the literary world is dominated by male writers, there are many women who write compelling short fiction. In no particular order, here is our list of twelve.

At #1 is Megan Mayhew Bergman, who was raised in North Carolina, and received the Garrett Award for fiction in 2015. She is best known for her debut work "Birds of a Lesser Paradise," which is a heartwarming collection that focuses on the complex relationships women have with their fellow humans, animals, and the evolving world. It was named one of Huffington Post's Best Books of 2012, and has gained numerous positive reviews. Three years later, Bergman released her second book, "Almost Famous Women."

Next, at #2 is Lesley Nneka Arimah, a Nigerian writer who was born in the UK and won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa in 2015. Her first collection, "What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky," delves into the life of Nigerian families in their home country and America. It explores their ties and culture while incorporating elements of science fiction, history, and magic. Among its many awards, the narrative received the Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, both in 2017.

It explores their ties and culture while incorporating elements of science fiction, history, and magic.

At #3 is Cristina Henriquez, a Panamanian-American writer who is widely known for her award-winning novel "The Book of Unknown Americans." She majored in English at Northwestern University, and earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her debut collection "Come Together, Fall Apart" takes readers on a journey through Panamanian culture, as she presents eight short stories and one novella about family relationships, friendships, infatuations, and lover's conflicts.

At #4 is Katherine Heiny, whose first two works are mainly about infidelity. Her debut collection, "Single, Carefree, Mellow," presents eleven stories about relationship conflicts and cheating among teenagers, clueless husbands, and bored housewives. It has been acclaimed by various literary websites and magazines like The Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times. Her humorous writing style is also present in her first novel, "Standard Deviation," where she continues to tackle the topic of adultery.

Coming in at #5 is New York-based writer Mia Alvar. Born in Manila, the Filipina author is best known for her critically acclaimed work, "In the Country," which is composed of nine insightful stories that explore the Philippine diaspora in the Middle East and the United States. It digs deep into the lives of Filipino immigrants and exiled workers, who are all in search of a better life outside their homeland. The book has won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and was included in various lists of best books in 2015.

It digs deep into the lives of Filipino immigrants and exiled workers, who are all in search of a better life outside their homeland.

At #6 is Jennine Capo Crucet, a Cuban writer who grew up in the city of Hialeah in Florida. Having been the first person in her family to be born in the United States, she was inspired to write about the Cuban-American culture in her debut collection entitled "How to Leave Hialeah." Her tales portray the rich history of their marginalized community, which is often ignored outside Miami. Her sharp and humorous narrative has received several honors including the Iowa Short Fiction Award, and the 2009 John Simmons Short Fiction Award.

Next up, at #7 is Elisa Albert, who explores the traditional Jewish rituals in her book "How This Night Is Different." Raised in a Jewish home in Los Angeles, Albert is able to give her readers a detailed illustration of faith in the modern day through ten provocative tales that are full of wit and a dark sense of humor. The collection won her the Moment Magazine Emerging Writer Award and garnered positive reviews from Lilith Magazine and Publishers Weekly. She was also a finalist of the Sami Rohr Prize in 2009 with her first novel, "The Book of Dahlia."

At #8 is Bonnie Jo Campbell, who grew up at a small farm in Michigan. At a young age, she learned how to tend to animals and do agricultural work, which is reflected in her creative writing. Dubbed by the Boston Globe as "a master of rural America's post-industrial landscape," Campbell portrays the life of country dwellers and blue-collar workers in her book "Mothers, Tell Your Daughters." With her brutally honest descriptions, her stories expose the hardships of poor, uneducated women in the countryside who are trapped in a life of abuse and injustice.

At a young age, she learned how to tend to animals and do agricultural work, which is reflected in her creative writing.

At #9 is Elizabeth Graver, a professor and co-director of the Creative Writing Concentration at Boston College. Her first book, "Have You Seen Me?" for which she was awarded the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, is a collection of tales that depict the isolation and agony of children and old people. A Massachusetts native, Graver also wrote the critically acclaimed novel "The End of The Point," which is set on the coast of her hometown. Her works have also been anthologized in the "Best American Short Stories" collection.

Coming in at #10 is Jayne Anne Phillips who released her award-winning collection, "Black Tickets," at the age of 26. Her tales fiercely examine the human condition in a world full of violence and sex. She portrays the suffering of abused young girls, homeless mad women, strippers, and prostitutes, as she reveals the harsh reality of impoverished towns and cities. Phillips' vivid storytelling earned her the 1980 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and has been praised by various literary personalities like Tillie Olsen and Raymond Carver.

At #11 is Rachel Seiffert, a German-Australian novelist who is based in London. Known as an educator in the subject of creative writing, she has taught at institutions like the University of Glasgow, and held seminars at numerous schools in the UK. Her 2004 collection "Field Study," which received an award from PEN International, is composed of eleven thought-provoking tales that revolve around the theme of crisis. She paints the lives of those who are coping with emotional problems mostly because of poverty, describing their flaws and inner battles.

Known as an educator in the subject of creative writing, she has taught at institutions like the University of Glasgow, and held seminars at numerous schools in the UK.

Finally, at #12 is Lee Smith. Born in 1944, the award-winning author was already writing and selling stories at the age of nine. Although she is widely known for her novels, Smith began penning short fiction in the early 1980s.

In 2010, she released her collection "Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger," which is composed of seven new tales along with her seven favorites from her earlier works. The stories are set in Southwest Virginia and are mostly about encountering a pivotal moment in life that leads to a significant transformation.