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Women in love: Christine Sneed's Portraits

The short story collection is the bastard child of publishing, seldom mentioned unless it does something that can't be ignored. The conventional thinking among commercial publishers is that they're hard to define and even harder to market.

Yet every few years an unignorable bastard comes along. Junot Diaz created a Dominican male immigrant archetype in his raw yet suave 1996 collection, Drown; 11 years later he resurrected it for his debut novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and won a Pulitzer Prize. In 2000, the honor of a Pulitzer was accorded Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri's debut collection about love and homesickness of the immigrant Indian variety. And American Salvage, Bonnie Jo Campbell's collection focused on working-class rust belters, was a 2009 National Book Award finalist.

If short story collections rarely break through into the mainstream, they're still crucial to the development of new talents. Read the review in the Chicago Reader>>>

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