This fat "companion volume" to Halpern's earlier anthology, The Art of the Tale (not reviewed), offers a generous sampling of contemporary short fiction (all 78 contributors were "born after 1937")—though it's perhaps less truly "international" than announced (more than 50 of the stories were written in English). Nevertheless, Halpern's range is impressive, extending to such writers of recent emergence as Vikram Chandra, Junot D°az, Nathan Englander, Can Xue, and Banana Yoshimoto. Only a handful of stories are even arguably overfamiliar (Graham Swift's "Learning to Swim," Haruki Murakami's "The Elephant Vanishes," the late Toni Cade Bambara's "Gorilla, My Love")—and Halpern has unearthed three to four dozen gems, including Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong'o's moving "Minutes of Glory," Britisher Jim Crace's suggestive allegory "The Prospect from the Silver Hills," Hungarian PÇter Esterh†zy's amusingly metafictional "Roberto Narrates," and Somalian Neustadt Prize—winner Nuruddin Farah's compact parable of colonialism, "My Father, the Englishman, and I." The only book of its kind well worth its (steep) price, and endlessly browsable.
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