If you live in a big city, you’re probably used to the long commute to work. But just because you’re used to it doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it. For many people, the work commute is objectively the worst part of their day – studies have shown that commutes have a negative impact on quality of life. Not. Cool. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to pass that time – as long as you aren’t driving, of course – and reading a book one way to make the minutes tick by quickly. So the next time you’re on your way to work, simply pull out one of these great short story compilations by contemporary authors and while away your time.  

Boats on Land, Janice Pariat

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Pariat represents the new generation of Indian English-language authors. Born in Assam and raised in Meghalaya, she became the first writer from Meghalaya to receive an award from the Sahitya Akademi for a work in English. Her debut collection of short stories, Boats On Land – set between Shillong, Cherrapunji and Assam – tells fictional stories of the drastic changes that the North-East underwent over the course of last three centuries. An incredibly original writer, Pariat writes in the magical realism style as she combines local folklore with current day social and political events. Her work will give you an insight into the North-East that’s otherwise difficult to find.  

The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has been lauded for attracting a new generation of readers to African literature. Growing up in Nigeria, she read a lot of books by British and American authors and, in doing so, realised that there wasn’t enough writing out there by people of other nationalities, so she took it upon herself to get stories about people like her – everyday African people – out there so that the world could view her countrymen through a more accurate lens. Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck, is a collection of 12 stories about the bond between men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.  

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s work often explores the issues faced by immigrant Indians in the United States, with themes such as marital difficulties, child-raising and the disconnect between first-generation Indian immigrants and their American children. While critics in India had mixed feelings about her portrayal of Indians in her stories, the rest of the world lapped it up and she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this short story collection in 2000. IT’s only the seventh occasion that a story collection has won the coveted prize.  

This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz

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Diaz is a prominent Dominican American writer and a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This Is How You Lose Her is the second collection of short stories from him and is composed of nine interlinked stories. Each features Yunior, a deeply-flawed young man who struggles against his ingrained infidelity caused by the cultural and social conditioning he has been put through his entire life. A true critics’ darling, Diaz’s irresistible prose style and understanding of working-class immigrant life make his writing incredibly memorable.  

Between The Assassinations, Arvind Adiga

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The title refers to the period between the assassinations of Indira Gandhi, in 1984, and her son, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991.  Between The Assassinations is a collection of short stories set in the fictitious coastal South Indian town of Kittur, and they explore the everyday pathos and irony of Indian life. What’s most interesting about this book is that even though it was published after the release of The White Tiger – Arvind Adiga’s debut novel which fetched him the Man Booker Prize – it was most likely finished much earlier. This is evident from the fact that many of the elements from The White Tiger are present as short stories in this collection, albeit in an unpolished form.


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