Joanna Briscoe, novelist, recommends…

(CLASSIC: from The Collected Short Stories of Saki, Wordsworth)

I’m a great admirer of Saki, and this story is a favourite. It’s so concise, so silly, and so thoroughly enjoyable. From the wonderful first sentence: ‘It was Mrs. Packletide’s pleasure and intention that she should shoot a tiger,’ the mockery is sustained with such discipline and lightness of touch. I also thrill to the viciousness that runs beneath the surface of Saki’s stories.

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(MODERN: from Hey Yeah Right Get a Life, Vintage)

For me, Helen Simpson is the finest living short story writer we have. ‘Lentils and Lilies’ perfectly sums up what it is to be a teenage girl: the glorious superiority, scorn, delusions, and glittering hope as we watch Jade ‘moving like a panther into the long, jeweled narrative which was her future.’

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