Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Best American Short Stories 2003” as Want to Read:
The Best American Short Stories 2003
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Best American Short Stories 2003 (The Best American Short Stories)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  503 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is wide ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published October 10th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published September 12th 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Best American Short Stories 2003, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Best American Short Stories 2003

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 937)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 28, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I rarely read short story collections but read this as it was a book club choice. I believe I will get this title each year it is printed. I enjoyed the short reading time each night as well as enjoying the diversity of the stories. The book discussion was good because we all had differing opinions about each story. Almost every story was either "weird" or "bizarre" but in a good and entertaining way.
Nov 12, 2011 Kyle rated it it was amazing
The Best American Short Stories 2003 deserves its 5 star rating. Here are three stories that reason why.


Set in the future when androids, which are robots that have an entirely human appearance, can be bought, sold, and upgraded at the hospital, a husband is caught in a dilemma that concerns his son, and must make a life changing choice.
The conflict between characters is dynamic; no character remains static. The setting is beautiful, “…the ground open
Lacey Louwagie
So, seeing as these are "the best" American short stories of 2003, I don't really feel right about dissing any of them. Because even the ones that I didn't like, I could trust the compilers of this collection enough to know they were still quality stories. I liked the diversity of voices, although it felt a little token-ish (here's a story about a Native American, here's a story about a Chinese-American, here's a story about an African American . . .). A few of my thoughts on specific stories:

Jun 09, 2015 Wendolyn rated it liked it
Recommended to Wendolyn by: Mom
It was a nice change to read some short stories.

Introduction, p. xiii-xiv, "...I understand the mountain and the novel to be impossible in everyday human terms. Both emerge from a distance that can be approached only by faith. And when you get there, all you find is yourself. The beauty or terror you experience is your understanding of how far you've come, your being stretched further than is humanly possible...I cannot climb the mountain that sits in the sea, but from where I stand it comes to
Nov 26, 2014 Mindy rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-lit
I can't understand the people in these stories, and the ones I did understand had nothing remarkable said about them. What is the point of reading about messed-up people who never start to make sense or be explained beyond what we already understand? If there are deeper meanings in these stories, I can't find them. The authors know to end the stories with some tie back to the beginning. But if that factor has no real significance, the story is still pointless. Where are the morals? Where is the ...more
E L Doctorow's "Baby Wilson" is my favorite of the collection. It is amusing and absurd. Karen and the narrator are a regular Bonnie and Clyde, but family-style.

Mona Simpson's "Coins" is an engaging view of wealthy Beverly Hills from the perspective of a Filipino babysitter.

Jess Row's "Heaven Lake" is a saddening story from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant living in the frightening New York of the early 1990s.

"Shamengwa" is a Native American story that takes place in the realm of magic re
Julie Rand
May 03, 2016 Julie Rand rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
An enjoyable audiobook containing seven of the best American short stories chosen by editor Walter Mosley. My favorites were Baby Wilson by E.L. Doctorow, Kavita Through Glass by Emily Raboteau, and Shamengawa by Louise Erdrich. The last was especially moving and memorable, and left a beautiful and melancholy ache in my heart when the story ended.
Apr 01, 2015 Vincent rated it really liked it
Several great stories in this edition, but two mysteriously took me in, both a nod to science fiction. The first was about a hundred year old mechanical doll and a maturing adolescent boy in New Orleans, let's just say the doll does more than moves her head. The other - a futuristic domestic tale about a married couple's struggling relationship and how to best deal with their failing android son. Should they upgrade the chip in their son's model and sacrifice his personality? Other stories I was ...more
Richard Jespers
Nov 27, 2014 Richard Jespers rated it liked it
ZZ Packer is so great.

So are Nicole Krauss, Anthony Doerr, E.L. Doctorow (“Baby Wilson”), Edwidge Danticat, Dorothy Allison (her story “sad” but not sloppy).
Sharla Rivera
May 06, 2015 Sharla Rivera rated it it was ok
Too many of these short stories had abrupt endings. I could also tell that the editor was a man without even looking--most of the stories were masculine in some way or another. My favorite was The Bees by Dan Chaon but it the only horror story in the collection.
Krystl Louwagie
Jun 13, 2011 Krystl Louwagie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I almost feel like you had to be an older women to be interested in these stories. All but 2 were about kids and babies, blech. Most of them were slow moving and boring and too real life. Which I'm living, I don't need to read (listen) about it.
I think the only story I found remotely interesting was one about a reservation and a fiddle that traveled through it and the stories it was involved in. Other than that, I found almost all of them to either be annoying or completely boring (most of them
Jul 02, 2014 Aurelius rated it really liked it
Always a treat reading these! I get excited when they come out.
Sep 18, 2010 Ursula rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Although the second half of the book is forgettable and awful, the first half is mostly solid. The best stories are "Kavita through Glass," "Ghost Knife," and "Moriya." ZZ Packer and Mary Yukari's stories were pretty good as well. Many reviews claimed that "The Shell Collector" was the best story in the book, but I actually found it boring and laborious. Many stories were dull including Adam Haslett's Kevin Brockmeier's and Dorothy Allison's. I appreciated Walter Mosley's agenda, and a few stori ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Thecritic rated it it was amazing
Such great and engaging stories.
Feb 08, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ten years down the road, this edition of "Best American Short Stories" turns out to be an especially good collection, full of stories that reach toward the fantastical and the unfamiliar without sacrificing their humanity. The book includes Anthony Doerr's virtuosic story "The Shell Collector," along with Louise Erdrich's "Shamengwa" and Kevin Brockmeier's "Space" -- now one of my all-time favorite stories.
CV Rick
Nov 22, 2009 CV Rick rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection - one of the best of the series. Several of the stories really stood out:

Baby Wilson by E.L. Doctorow
Shamengwa by Louise Erdrich
Space by Kevin Brockmeier
Heaven Lake by Jess Row
Coins by Mona Simpson

These are some of the best short stories around. The collection is noted for its clear, unique voices, simple ideas, and well-crafted narratives.
Aug 17, 2011 Sterlingcindysu rated it it was ok
I could tell that this selection had been edited by a man. True, there are women writers, but the voice as a whole is violent, aggressive and depressing. 2002 must have been a sad year if these were the "best" short stories. The subject matter of most weren't my cup of tea either. Perhaps the wrong book to read in the summer.
Jun 10, 2012 Ashley rated it liked it
Some pretty good stories in here, but not one of the better collections I've read. I liked (no particular order) "Kavita Through Glass" by Emily Ishem Raboteau, "Moriya" by Dean Paschal, "Future Emergencies" by Nicole Krauss, "Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down" by Ryan Harty, and "The Bees" by Dan Chaon best.
Sep 15, 2007 Cecilia rated it really liked it
I’ve never been one for short stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. I kind of like the way that these stories are snapshots into the lives of characters I might not otherwise see. The writing was superb and all the tales were engaging.
Nov 11, 2009 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All good stories. I think I liked the ones in the 2008 collection a little better -- they stick more in my mind, at least. But again, completely worth it if only for the contributors' notes in the back, explaining how the story came about.
Nov 14, 2012 Erica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I really enjoyed this volume. All of the stories were compelling and kept me reading to the end. There was a lot of variety in the stories...among different cultures and races. Probably one of the best volumes of the series.
Feb 10, 2011 elle rated it really liked it
I love short stories and I continue to enjoy these collections. I always pick them up 3-4 years after they are published, at least, but I think they're still worth reading, which says something about their quality.
May 16, 2012 Jessica rated it liked it
Adam picked this up at a used book sale at the library. They are the perfect length to read a story on my commute. So I always enjoy them. Some stories in this one are a little creepy, but overall pretty good.
Oct 23, 2012 Annette rated it it was amazing
The latest of this annual series (published since 1915) provides an annual collection of carefully selected recently-published short fiction and nonfiction stories. This year's volume was a great read. (lj)
May 29, 2009 Ruth rated it liked it
read with Book group on a wonderful weekend get-a-way....we all read some stories in common...hung But I don't remember any single story!
Jul 04, 2007 Titah added it
What is the criteria for "The Best" short stories?
The O.Henry winner stories were much more interesting and they still not claim as the best.
Monica Madaus
Oct 23, 2013 Monica Madaus rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I particularly liked Z.Z. Packer's story "Every Tongue Shall Confess," and Emily Ishem Raboteau's "Kavita Through Glass".
David Rosen
Aug 27, 2009 David Rosen rated it liked it
not nearly as strong as some of the other years- 2001 for example (containing the ever-memorable "Secrets of Bats" by Jess Row
Apr 12, 2009 Nan rated it really liked it
What an amazing range of short stories. Fiction is where it's at. And Mosley picked some of the best.
Holly Interlandi
Sep 25, 2007 Holly Interlandi rated it it was ok
Dean Paschal's 'Moriya' saved this sucker from one star. Such a gem in such a sea of... crud.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 31 32 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Best American Short Stories 2002
  • The Best American Short Stories 1998
  • The Best American Short Stories 2000
  • The Best American Short Stories 2004
  • The Best American Short Stories 2005
  • The Best American Short Stories 2006
  • The Best American Short Stories 2001
  • The Best American Short Stories 1997
  • The Best American Short Stories 1999
  • The Best American Short Stories 1996
  • The Best American Short Stories 1995
  • The Best American Short Stories 2009
  • The Best American Short Stories 1994
  • The Best American Short Stories 1993
  • The Best American Short Stories 1992
  • The Best American Short Stories 2008
  • The Best American Short Stories 2007
  • The Best American Short Stories 2010 (The Best American Series)
Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more
More about Walter Mosley...

Other Books in the Series

The Best American Short Stories (1 - 10 of 89 books)
  • The Best Short Stories of 1915, and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best American Short Stories of 1916: And the Yearbook of the American Short Story (1917)
  • The Best Short Stories of 1917
  • The Best Short Stories of 1918 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1919
  • The Best Short Stories of 1920 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1921, and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • The Best Short Stories of 1922 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
  • Best Short Stories: 1927
  • The Best Short Stories of 1931 And the Yearbook of the American Short Story 1931

Share This Book

“These short stories are vast structures existing mostly in the subconscious of our cultural history. They will live with the reader long after the words have been translated into ideas and dreams. That's because a good short story crosses the borders of our nations and our prejudices and our beliefs. A good short story asks a question that can't be answered in simple terms. And even if we come up with some understanding, years later, while glancing out of a window, the story still has the potential to return, to alter right there in our mind and change everything.” 8 likes
More quotes…