When I was toying with ideas for a PhD thesis a few years back, one of them was to write about how short stories tackle the Big Subjects. I was interested in what a short story is, what it is for, and what a writer of the seeks to get out of them, and how they can often be the most incisive way of getting to the heart of something. I have a lot of sympathy for the Borges line about saying in one paragraph what novelists take 500 pages to say. I also like the Irwin Shaw line (I forget the exact quote) about the novel having to be about an entire man in all his aspects for all his life, whereas a short story can be about one man for a moment. But I also like that a short story lives beyond its pages. It is created with the express purpose of lingering in the reader’s mind, to go on and unfurl in the days, weeks and months and years after the first reading and keep revealing its meanings. I think my anthology picks stories that do this, but also, they are stories that use the short form to take on those Big Issues, from national identity to the Holocaust, from sexual politics to social politics, feminism, grief, loneliness, German philosophy, and just plain old growing up. It’s a bit eclectic, but therein lies the joy.

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