In the Between: 21st Century Short Stories

In the Between gathers together seventeen short stories and two comics created by established and rising stars in American fiction or graphic art, all published since 2000. It speaks to the widening diversity in our population and to our changing society. The stories in this collection present characters from differing multicultural and racial backgrounds, genders, sexuality, and abled-ness, some with intersectional identities and others who are affected by urban gentrification or the decline of their rural town. Each one is trying to find a manageable way of life in America. Taken together, their stories urge us to embrace a complex understanding of who we are as a country and who we can be as individuals.

Brice Particelli, co-editor of this collection, writes,

A big part of our divide is fear-based and protective. It’s focused on keeping cultures insulated. We find ourselves in a culture war built around questions of whether our country is diverse or not, whether our history is more complicated than we want to acknowledge, and around whose stories we are willing to hear. I wanted to capture some of the voices that make up that struggle within this anthology.

In the Between is not a book about politics. Its intimate stories give readers a glimpse into other peoples’ lives with a clear focus on human nature. They feature protagonists who are navigating shifting cultural and personal identities as they go to college, hold down a job, serve in the military, emigrate to a new country, fall in love and/or find a sexual partner, perhaps all while struggling with being treated as “other.” The stories don’t shy away from difficulty or controversy. They provide a realistic portrait of America today.

Here are some examples:

  • To meet her parents’ expectations, a daughter of immigrants fakes her way into a top university and finds the only way out is through revenge. (“Accepted” by Vanessa Hua)
  • A strait-laced Black man, a qualified accountant who is repeatedly mistaken for a drug dealer, decides to track down and get to know his double. (“Juba” by Rion Amilcar Scott)
  • A trans-woman considers her new femininity in relation to her activist lesbian friend and her grandmother, who fled from her homeland in war-torn Vietnam to find freedom in America. (“To the New World” by Ryka Aoki)
  • An American soldier in Fallujah suffers from PTSD after he covers for his buddy who has impulsively shot and killed an Iraqi boy. (“After Action Report” by Phil Klay)
  • In gentrifying Houston, an Afro-Latino cook is forced to take a job doing kitchen “grunt work” and soon finds himself in a troubled relationship with an entitled “whiteboy.” (“Navigation” by Bryan Washington)
  • A girl anguishes over choosing to have an abortion amidst questions of environmental destruction. (“In the Trees” by Alice Hoffman.)

The collection also includes works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Roxane Gay, Benjamin Alire Saenz, and more.

3 Comments on “In the Between: 21st Century Short Stories

    • I’ve heard of that one, but I haven’t read it, yet! I’m going to add it to the list.


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