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The Lottery (Tale Blazers: American Literature)
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The Lottery (Tale Blazers: American Literature)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  23,949 ratings  ·  681 reviews
Shirley Jackson's The Lottery is a memorable and terrifying masterpiece, fueled by a tension that creeps up on you slowly without any clear indication of why. This is just a townful of people, after all, choosing their numbers for the annual lottery. What's there to be scared of?
Paperback, 30 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Perfection Learning (first published June 26th 1948)
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The Lottery by Shirley JacksonCutting Right to the Chase Vol.2, by Stefania MattanaGalactic Energies by Luca  RossiOrchid by Shane K.P. O'NeillThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Best Short Stories of All Time
1st out of 130 books — 158 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tammy Walton Grant
How do you rate something that keeps you from sleeping?

I know that I thought it was brilliantly done; Jackson set the tone so well. She paints a bright, cheerful picture to start. It's a beautiful sunny day and the whole town is gathering, like for a town picnic. They're drawing for something, you think, I wonder what that is.

It's not until the 5th last paragraph that Jackson pulls the rug out from under your feet - and so quickly that I had to re-read the pivotal line about three times before
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Becky
Hmm. Well.

*sigh*

Shirley Jackson and I have this thing. I want to like her stories, and I get all "Yay! I'm going to just LOVE this one because THIS is the story that people think of when they think of Shirley Jackson!"... except, that's kind of been all of them, and they all have let me down in some way.

This one... well... I think it needed more violence. The climax was just kind of "...andthenthishappenedtheend." It needed more oomph. More, "Holy shit are you kidding me? WTF!"

Oh yes, yes, I
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Diane
I read this short story again recently and was struck, as ever, by Jackson's mastery. It's only about 10 pages long, and every word is perfect. It would make my list of the best short stories ever written.

"The Lottery" opens in a village in late June, and the 300 citizens are assembling in the town square. Each family stands together and the head of the household must draw a piece of paper from a black box. We learn that the lottery has something to do with a good harvest, but the true meaning o
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Leonard
In Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, though the stoning reminds us of the Old Testament punishment, its original intent has long been forgotten. We view with horror at the barbarity and insanity of the custom, just as we consider the Romans barbaric for entertaining themselves with gladiators. But perhaps a visitor to the U.S. without previous exposure may find American football, shoulders banging into heads and players piling on top of each other, also “barbaric and insane.”

Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson

We do no
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Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Available as a free PDF.

"Is that it?" was my first thought upon finishing. The only thing saving this is the thought that it was written in 1948, post-WWII. Wartime involved conscription, a national lottery picking random men to become soldiers and sending them to die. Thinking of The Lottery in light of this, and the complicit conformity and reluctance to abandon tradition, together with the similarity to The Hunger Games, provided enough context for me to appreciate this short story.
Figgy
While I can see how this story was radical and terrifying in its time, in the age of "The Hunger Games", it is not quite as shocking as it once was.

The thing that I found most interesting, most chilling, was the way the people kept insisting that they should "get on with it" and "wrap it up". The cold way they said these things suggested that they maybe saw it as an unavoidable thing, and an interruption to their day, but one can't help but wonder if they also needed to partake in their part of
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Victoria
My face after reading this:

D:

This short story is terrifically written, but is completely horrifying. It begins on a light note, but it doesn't take long for the reader to notice the ominous undertone in Jackson's writing. This story brings emphasis to irrationality, mob mentality, and cruelty in human nature. It effectively demonstrates that tradition can't be excused for the sake of being tradition. This is a well written story with a powerful message- I definitely recommend it.

The Lottery was
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Layton
This is my eighth (I think?) Review Month review.

****************************************

I'm not going into this plot much. I'll just say that it concerns a ritual that a village performs every year to bring in good crops.

The ending is shocking.

I'll sum it up with this Bad Luck Brian meme:

description
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
The whole crapola on James Frey's book made me interested in this original story. This story is gripping and rings true and makes you want more from the story as you as sitting there wondering what the heck just happened?
It doesn't bother me that Battle Royale and The Hunger Games are essentially based on this story. They are unique enough in their own ways to carry themselves fine. Neither has the feel of being stolen from this book. That new book by Mr. Frey however..is almost the Hunger Games
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Manda
Holy fuck, that ending!

Reading this post-Hunger Games, going into the story I had a suspicion that the lottery winner would be something undesirable, yet the actions of the townsfolk had me second-guessing the entire time what the outcome would be.

Jackson cheerfully paints the setting of a perfectly normal town, where everyone has gathered for some kind of recurring annual ritual that lasts approximately two hours. Why are they there? Why do people seem nervous? Yet there is also a sense of no
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Bruce
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Srividya
OMG!!! What did I just read??!! My heart is still pounding after reading this one!

Hats off to Shirley Jackson for writing such a tale. It starts off in such a benign manner that one is drawn into the wonders of a small town and is smiling through the gentle chatter, imagining a beautiful day in the countryside. Oh and then, in just about 8 pages, she manages to show how small towns truly worked in those days and what life in those towns could be. My mind is still reeling with the turn of events.
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Read this leisurely and attentively. That way you'll be able to fully appreciate its shocking and completely unexpected ending. Then, after reading it once, you need to read it again and savor another experience: realizing how it ends, and marvel at the chilling incongruity between the ending and the rest of the story which precedes it.
Joe
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story set in a Dystopian environment about a odd Lottery held in a small village. This review will be short to match the book length.

This is a short story that really is short, under 10 pages in most editions. The single plot premise is about a Lottery held in a small village, similar in other towns in the world, in which there can be only one winner out of every living soul in the village. What the prize is for winning will need reading to discover. It’
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Yani
Autora nueva, cuento nuevo (para mí). Empecé a leerlo con cierta información previa en la cabeza y no era desacertada, aunque a mí el cuento no terminó fascinándome como creí que lo haría. Es un 2.5.

A grandes rasgos, el argumento está centrado en un evento que ocurre en un pueblo pequeño, en donde los habitantes se reúnen y participan. No me extenderé mucho más. Es muy intrigante y genera que el lector desee el comienzo de los acontecimientos, quizás porque ya imagina lo que está por venir. A pe
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Adam Floridia
Prefatory blatherings: I've probably read this story a dozen times, give or take. So why am I adding it now? A few reasons. First, tonight it amazed me that I could read it for the dozenth time (give or take) and still quite literally shiver at the end. I know what's coming. Hell, I remember all the creepy, twisted details. Second, I don't usually add short stories, but this one just happens to be on GR as a stand alone and not part of a larger collection, so I could thereby honestly put it on m ...more
Matthew Hunter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eyehavenofilter
I just had to re-read this. Beware ranting to come...
It's one of my all time classics. It's been pilfered thousands of times by wanna-be writers and reworked to death by people who have no original thoughts of their own. It's been made into " Twilight Zone" and " Tales From The Crypt" scripts in one form or another and even into full length movies, YA novels, yes even the greats have stolen this idea....claiming to be original and new.
But this, THIS is the one, the only, the classic terrifying b
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Marchutchens
If you haven't read this yet, try to do so without reading any reviews or having any prior expectations - you'll enjoy it more! =]

I read this short story as part of an October spooky reading challenge, but I think it actually would have been better to read it without any expectations some other time of the year. The writing is good and it has a great ending that people have said lingers with them and gives them nightmares, but for me I think I'm a bit too desensitized for it to surprise or shock
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Rachel
I've had to read "The Lottery" several times during my academic career. But I don't mind. This is such a wonderfully powerful and thought-provoking short story that I do not protest when a Lit professor pulls it out of a pile.

"The Lottery" is the story about, well, a lottery held in a rural American town. The town is essentially "any town USA", and the townspeople are essentially anyone you might meet or know: a friend, a coworker, a family member...you. And that's what makes it so powerful. Jac
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Lizzie
Aw. I should've posted this on lottery day, June 27th! So close!

Okay so, when I was having my little Shirley Jackson love-fest last month, I was thinking: how silly that "The Lottery" has managed to completely slip by me. It takes ten minutes to read. Shouldn't I be curious? So I read it. (Rather wonderfully, the original New Yorker issue is available to browse in their online archive without a subscription, and I read it right there.)

The story itself is so slight, it's hard for me to get terrif
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Helmut
Pech im Spiel
Inzwischen kann ich mir ein gutes Bild über Shirley Jacksons Werk machen. Da wird jemand als Horrorautor oder Schreiber von Gruselgeschichten tituliert, der in Wahrheit etwas ganz anderes ist: In der Tradition von amerikanischen Meistern wie Ambrose Bierce schrieb Jackson tiefschwarze Satiren auf ihr "Land der Freiheit", das sich oft genug als zutiefst bigott präsentiert.

So wie in dieser Geschichte, die ihren Ruhm begründete. Ein liebenswertes kleines Dorf, ländlich gelegen, alle ke
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Patrick
I just never saw it coming. Every step this story took, just painted this beautiful, vivid picture. All I could picture was The Tree of Life, but that was a lie...underneath the poetry of that simple, innocent setting is There Will Be Blood...and this quaint little town just gets this edge and menace to it. The duality of the reactions of the crowd...the self-interests...the cruelty...the Southern hospitality turned toxic. Everything gets twisted so simply. Were those boys looking for the smooth ...more
Laura Edwards
One of the two best short stories I've ever read (the other is "The Seven Who Were Hanged" by Leonid Andreyev). I first read it in high school and the mental image formed in my mind has stayed with me throughout the years. I remember during the first reading, the excitement I shared with the character turning to a niggling feeling of discomfort as the story went on before being shocked by the ending. Powerful and says a lot about human nature.
Ken Moten
I give this 5 stars for the incredible build up of suspense to the last word.
This story is a very powerful commentary on rituals and what kinds of ritual a society would preserve. Now some people can get carried away with this but I think we are meant to have a measure of common-sense when reflecting on this.

I still marvel at how Jackson builds the suspense from zero to sixty throughout the entire story without stopping. Although I still prefer The Haunting more this story is definitely a clas
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Cora
My first reaction after finishing this short story was like this :"seriously,seriously,what the hell is going on,I must have got it wrong,".Then,I read the last paragraphs again,oh no no,it is so brutal,the story began really nicely,I didn't see this ending coming
Although this story is well written,I don't like it a bit,I don't think anyone does! I'm still in shock! what was the reason behind this lottery??????
Adrian Fridge
I know this is a classic and it's supposed to be a real gut clencher, but I felt nothing the whole time. I suppose I'm desensitized to this sort of horror story, what with the "normalcy" actually being a cover for something far more terrifying.

But it's not terrifying. Not for me. I've played the game Broken Age where they celebrate sacrificing young girls to a giant monster at "Maiden's Feasts." That is disturbing, especially since most of the game is watching people be disappointed that the ma
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Álvaro Carrasquel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roberta
"...I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there...I delight in what I fear." -- from an unsent letter to poet Howard Nemerov by Shirley Jackson.


Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) ebbe successo in vita, ma è soprattutto negli ultimi anni che la critica si è occupata dei suoi lavori. Il suo racconto più famoso è proprio “La lotteria”, in cui suggerisce che dietro una bucolica America di
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Sameera
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a book I would definitely recommend to everyone. This short story starts off with a very lighthearted mood and describes how the young boys were playing with stones as summer had just begun. As the story progresses, the readers are introduced to different families and how everyone was gathering around the lottery box for the final result. The lottery continues and the suspense builds with it. One great thing about this book is that we don’t know what this lotter ...more
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Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

She is best known for her dystopian short story, "The Lottery" (1948), which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown Ameri
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More about Shirley Jackson...
The Lottery and Other Stories The Haunting of Hill House We Have Always Lived in the Castle Life Among the Savages The Lottery and Other Stories; The Haunting of Hill House; We Have Always Lived in the Castle

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“Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.” 9 likes
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