Everybody loves The New Yorker, whether it is for the comics, the true dedication to printing some of the best fiction and poetry or the free tote bag you get with your subscription. Either way, today we are going to be looking at five great fiction pieces printed in The New Yorker that will make you feel like a more sophisticated reader!
- Visitor by Bryan Washington
In 2020, The New Yorker published Visitor, which is a short story by Bryan Washington that details life after the unexpected death of the narrator’s father. One night, the narrator gets an unexpected knock on his apartment door from someone who reveals a surprising secret about the father’s past. The more time that the narrator spends with the visitor, the more he is able to navigate his strained relationship with his father, as well as his own relationship with his partner. The ending of this short story is both satisfying and heartbreaking at the same time. This story has the wonderful element of surprise; I can almost guarantee that you have never read a story quite like this one.
2. Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri
The short story, Hell-Heaven, is by Jhumpa Lahiri and was originally published in the New Yorker in 2004. This story is from the perspective of a young South Asian girl who watches as her mother begins to connect with a youthful, intelligent and attentive Bengali college student named Pranab. The narrator watches their relationship blossom as a result of her father’s lack of interest, her mother’s boredom and Pranab’s craving for connection to his Bengali culture. However, the relationship quickly goes south once Pranab finds an American girlfriend. Hell-Heaven tells the story of a culture clash disguised as a story about love. The ending will have you frantically searching on Google whether Lahiri wrote a continuation to the story.
3. Kattekoppen by Will Mackin
Kattekoppen is a fiction piece that was published in The New Yorker in 2013. It tells the stories of a member of SEAL Team Six and a Dutch howitzer liaison named Levi during the war in Afghanistan. The story goes into detail about how the monotonous nature of war effectively desensitizes those who are participating. Once Levi returns home to witness the birth of his first child, his attitude changes, which leads the others to reconsider their own nihilistic war tendencies. This story has its humorous moments, but it also does a fantastic job of addressing the truly terrifying aspects of war and how it changes people.
4. Beginners by Raymond Carver
Have you been looking for a short story to put you in your feels? Are you looking to think deeply about the topic of love? Beginners is the perfect story for you. First printed in The New Yorker in 2007, this short story is one featured in Carver’s larger collection of short stories called, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. The story begins with four friends, Nick, Laura, Terri, and Mel, sitting at a table discussing the topic of love. Though the conversation seems simple and ordinary, each character’s own experience and personal meaning of love reveals something much bigger about human nature.
5. Girl by Jamaica Kincaid
Girl by Jamaica Kincaid was printed in the New Yorker in 1978. It is written in second person, where the commands given are from a maternal figure to her daughter. The commands generally concern chores that a young woman is expected to do to maintain the household. However, the demands become more troublesome as the mother attempts to prepare her daughter for the patriarchal and colonial outside world. Girl is short, but it packs a punch in discussing how the male gaze and patriarchy are passed on through generations, especially in a society in which colonization was present at some time.
These five fiction stories from The New Yorker discuss drastically different topics and themes. The New Yorker has a story for every type of reader, you’ve just got to read them to find ones that fit your style!
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