As the year comes to an end, here are Granta’s ten most popular fiction pieces from 2019:
‘It didn’t take long for the citizens of Moscow to realize that if you had no choice but to stand in line, then Pushkin was the man to stand next to.’
A new story by the New York Times best-selling novelist Amor Towles, featured in Granta 148: Summer Fiction.
‘He often told us how after the Dimming came great chaos and collapse. But before that happened, people had a tremendous capacity to move about and even speak with one another at a distance.’
In February, we published a new story by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft, in Granta 146: The Politics of Feeling, guest-edited by Devorah Baum and Josh Appignanesi. In October, Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature.
‘When those horrors happened, many of them couldn’t be buried properly, they had no time to bury them, they just put an excavator there that gathered the bodies helter-skelter, vroom vroom vroom, and put them in a grave.’
Translated from the Greek by Lina Protopapa, Constantia Soteriou’s story was the winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, marking the first time the prize has been awarded to a translation.
‘My mother Pattu graced our lives largely with her absence, for which my father and I and, to a lesser extent, grandma, were profoundly grateful.’
Malaysian writer Saraswathy M. Manickam is the Asian regional winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize with her story about a mother and her daughter.
‘Question: is romance just a father who never carried you to bed carrying you, at last, to bed?’
This extract from Noor Naga’s novel is the 2019 winner of the DISQUIET Literary Prize. American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2021.
‘It is their turn to be silent. Your hand is throbbing in protest. There is blood on your knuckles.’
A story of familial inheritance, reincarnation and possession from ’Pemi Aguda.
‘Naturally, there’s no such record as Charlie Parker Plays Bossa Nova. Charlie Parker passed away on 12 March 1955, and it wasn’t until 1962 that bossa nova broke through, spurred on by performances by Stan Getz and others.’
Another story that was part of our summer fiction special, this surreal tale circles around a review for a Charlie Parker album that never existed. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel.
‘My ex-boyfriend dies, and we all gather to put our hands into his body. There is not enough room so our own bodies take it in turns.’
A story by Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure.
‘There are basking sharks in the upper layers of the water – prehistoric things, nightmare-mouthed and harmless. Plankton-eaters, the way all seeming monsters are.’
Granta 148: Summer Fiction also included this story by Julia Armfield, a British writer shortlisted for the 2019 Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award for her collection salt slow.
‘According to central government policy, I needed to be reformed by the peasants because my class status wasn’t right – both my parents were high school teachers.’
A short story by Jianan Qian on stray dogs, desperation and re-education in rural China during the Cultural Revolution.