Choi, Ruffin, Sayrafiezadeh, So, Vásquez: Story Collection Previews, Aug. 2021, Pt. 1 | Prepub Alert

From literary star Juan Gabriel Vásquez to  Anthony Veasna So, a rising star whose life was tragically cut short, five collections for fans of fiction, short or long. 

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Choi, Yoon. Skinship: Stories. Knopf. Aug. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780593318218. $25.95. SHORT STORIES

First- and second-generation counterthrusts, secrets covered or discovered, kindness cover of So's Afterpartiesdisplayed and pain unintentionally delivered: these stories by former Stegner fellow and Short Story Award finalist Choi explore the lives and complicated connections of a group of Korean American families. A debut collection.

Ruffin, Maurice Carlos. The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You: Stories. One World: Random. Aug. 2021. 192p. ISBN 9780593133408. $26. SHORT STORIES

Following up his debut novel, We Cast a Shadow, which was long-listed for PEN/Faulkner, Open Book, and Center for Fiction First Novel honors, Ruffin should reel in new readers with a collection probing those living on the edge in his native New Orleans. A longtime city resident fights to keep her home, for instance, while a young man helps his father, just released from prison, find a job.

Sayrafiezadeh, Saïd. American Estrangement: Stories. Norton. Aug. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780393541236. $25.95. SHORT STORIES

A Whiting Award winner in nonfiction following publication of his memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, and short-listed for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for his collection Brief Encounters with the Enemy, Sayrafiezadeh returns with a second collection whose characters face personal crisis in America’s fraught socioeconomic landscape. Short fiction fans will remember some of these stories from The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories.

So, Anthony Veasna. Afterparties: Stories. Ecco. Aug. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780063049901. $27.99. SHORT STORIES

Having already claimed a Lambda Literary Fellowship and the Joyce Carol Oates Award and been published in The New Yorker, So was poised for literary fame with this first collection when he died tragically at age 28 in December 2020. His stories assay Cambodian Americans, particularly those born to the generation that fled the Killing Fields, while also offering a view of the LGBTQ experience and community. Sure to get—and deserve—attention; with a 100,000-copy first printing.

Vásquez, Juan Gabriel. Songs for the Flames: Stories. Riverhead. Aug. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780593190135. $26. SHORT STORIES

A soldier recalls pain both intimate and large-scale, a photographer pries into the traumatic past of a fellow guest at a ranch, and the story of a woman buried next to a graveyard follows a winding path from France to Colombia. From International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner Vásquez, these violence-glazed stories have never appeared in English, and the collection as a whole just won a major award in Colombia.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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