Annelies Verbeke, Dutch writer, recommends…

(CLASSIC: from the journal Sovremennik, 1836)

According to some, Gogol is the inventor of the modern short story. What I like about him is his humor and his playfulness, the realism behind his caricatures. The great thing about ‘The nose’ is that the story made it perfectly possible for a literary character to wake up one morning without a nose and some moments later see that nose entering a carriage in a hurry.

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(MODERN: from Suddenly, a Knock on he Door, FSG Originals, 2012)

Keret’s stories are almost always hilarious, but at the same time they touch a deep essence of humanity. You feel for the characters, who are funny but not made fun of; they are in fact taken very seriously in all their failure and loneliness. That’s what good short stories are capable of, more than any other genre: showing the human vulnerability behind all that goes on. The (talking) goldfish-story plays with the ‘three wishes’ theme from fairy tales. I also like the fact that Keret is a real short story writer, and successful too.

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