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20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  934 ratings  ·  123 reviews
In June 2010, the editors of The New Yorker announced to widespread media coverage their selection of "20 Under 40"—the young fiction writers who are, or will be, central to their generation. The magazine published twenty stories by this stellar group of writers over the course of the summer. They are now collected for the first time in one volume.

The range of voices is ex
Paperback, 431 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published November 19th 2010)
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3.78  · 
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 ·  934 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Leo Robertson
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
"It was difficult to choose who we believed were the new voices of American fiction. Thankfully we found a wide variety of mostly stories about immigrants in New York City in which nothing happens."
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nice-cover, 2010, own
I wouldn't call my feelings about this collection "mixed," because frankly the majority of it was a delight. But I started feeling jaded by it somewhere around the middle of the alphabet, when I read and enjoyed the Nicole Krauss story and began browsing through Great House at work to decide whether or not it might be something I'm interested in buying. It was then that I realized that her "short story" in the collection was actually an excerpt from her new book.

So I skipped ahead in the table
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's usually hard to rate a short story collection--so many dimensions and variations--but even harder, I think, to rate this kind of collection from The New Yorker, what with quite a few different authors and all, some you will never forget, some you vaguely recall. One thing is evident: these are all short stories crafted superbly, written with style and clarity, stories from writers who take creative liberties.

Clearly, the stories were all written to fit the New Yorker's style and audience, s
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
People are always going to quibble over the choices of whom to include in an anthology of this sort, but overall I think the New Yorker editors and Deborah Treisman in particular did a great job with their selections. I'm somewhat surprised Nam Le isn't on the list, but his exclusion doesn't diminish the collection's value. As I read, I reminded myself that this was not a best-of set; these are not necessarily the writers' strongest stories but are instead an introduction to their work. One woul ...more
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I always think that I love short stories, but I'm slowly realizing that it is a genre filled with pain. I guess that's part of the point--with a short piece you have to really say something, get to some emotion, and get to it quickly. If the emotion you're visiting is negative, you can get there much faster. I feel the same way about short stories from more established authors, Raymond Carver, for example, as I do about most of the stories in this collection. (Of course, it is not universal, in ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
My complaints with this anthology have more to do with the content within than the authors selected. I dipped in and out of this collection over the course of 3 weeks, and looking back over the titles, only a handful have stayed with me. The main problem is that several pieces are excerpts from forthcoming novels, and most of them read like excerpts rather than self-satisfying stories. I may eagerly seek out the novels when they are published (notably those by Nicole Krauss, Karen Russell, and C ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love the New Yorker Fiction podcasts and am sad that there's only one new one a month. That's why I was so pleased to find this collection. It includes a nice range of authors and exposed me to variety of worlds. Even though not all of the stories were "awesome", I still really enjoyed it.

My ratings:
1. Birdsong (Adichie) - 3
2. The Warm Fuzzies (Adrian) - 2
3. Second Lives (Alacon) - 2
4. The Train of Their Departure (Bezmozgis) - 3
5. The Erkling (Bynum) - 2
6. The Plot (Ferris) - 3
7. Here We Aren
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The problem I’m having with so many short stories is that, while fun to read, most are forgettable. Blame it on the titles. The best short stories have titles that stick in your mind: “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by Conrad Aiken, “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver or “...When We Talk About Anne Frank” by Nathan Englander.

One in this collection passes the title litmus test: “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly” by Jonathan Safran Foer, a hus
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
The only reason I read The New Yorker and even The Atlantic is for the short stories. However, I was disappointed in the selection of short stories included in this anthology by the New Yorker. I found most of the stories had a cynical tone regarding human decisions and the consequences that can follow. They were thought-provoking but with a depressing mood.

The only two stories I enjoyed were Blue Water Djinn by Tea Obreht and The Dredgeman's Revelation by Karen Russell. The characters and even
Felicity LuHill
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Less than half of these stories are worth reading; the rest are quite dull. The stories by Chimamanda Adichie, ZZ Packer, Yiyun Li, Dinaw Mengestu, and Joshua Ferris were my favorites. They're probably all great writers, but I think the process of choosing the writer first and then trying to get a story out of them can be a bit backwards, it doesn't guarantee a great stand alone story.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite a few stories that I found disturbing, and a couple stories that I thought were just fine. Mixed with some amazing works!
Olatomiwa Bifarin
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A few great stories: Second Lives, An Arranged Marriage, An Honest Exit, The Landlord.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked some of the stories, but it felt a monochromatic in tone in the same way that all New Yorker stories do.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shorts
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
some great stories, some ok and some just excerpted from novels.. Not the short story form.
Read most of these for my advanced creative writing course. Favorites were definitely "The Erlking," "Birdsong," and "The Kid."
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Favorite stories included Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's "The Erkling" (suitably creepy), Johnathan Safran Foer's "Here We Aren't, So Quickly" (made me cry on a plane before takeoff...I always want to hate his stuff, but I never do), and the heart wrenching story "The Kid" by Salvatore Scibona. The excerpt from Super Sad True Love Story also makes me want to read it ASAP.
May 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
I love short stories. Love, LOVE them. Not all short stories, of course, and I'm not being terribly original when I say the experience with a short story is quite different to that with a novel, but a good short story, a great one, one that resonates with me, is always such a sweet, bitter, inspiring, thrilling thing to encounter. With a novel it's different: the awe is, at best, sustained and builds up; or you get your ups and downs, frustrations and moments of reading elation; you build your r ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The only reason I got this book is that there is a short story by Tea Obreht in it, and also one by Karen Russell. But I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of the other stories as well. They were mostly really dark, but still compelling. The writing overall was really good, though I hadn't heard of most of the authors. The New Yorker mainly chooses good pieces of fiction.

That being said, I didn't love any of the stories in particular, and none of them just wowed me. For example, I wasn't compelle
Donald Quist
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Of course it is hard to have an absolute opinion about a collection of fiction as varied as this. Naturally, there are pieces I like and some I don't. “The Pilot” by Joshua Ferris is far from clever and in its attempts to satirize the television industry the piece ultimately feels as trivial as the premise: A neurotic screenwriter neglects his work and becomes increasingly concerned with the petty details of Hollywood. But therein lays the problem, looking for revelations in a world that is all ...more
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I think what makes this book so appealing is the range of voices and style found in the collection. It is hard for me to pick my favorite, because it really is a matter of personal taste, especially for the range of subject matter involved. I liked that there were also a broad range of cultures included, as their writing really reflects their individual experiences.

The stories that really grabbed me and still will not let go are the ones by: Philipp Meyer, C.E. Morgan, and Dinaw Mangestu. I thou
Kathy Selvaggio
Jan 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Finished the book a couple of weeks ago, and my opinion didn't really change.

Halfway through the book, for the most part, I not blown away by the insights, originality and talent of this younger generation of writers -- with two exceptions: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's story about a young professional women in Nigeria having an affair with a married man, and a brilliant story by Chris Adian, someone I had not hear of previously. Prior to returning to the US from 15 months overseas last month, I h
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, owned
A graduation present from my sister, I opened this outstanding collection on the plane ride back from my newest alma mater, and could barely put it down until I finally got to the end of the book one week later. These stories display some of the most consistent high-quality prose I can remember for such a diverse group of styles and settings. While I enjoyed some stories more than others, every single work published in 20 Under 40 is a testament to incredibly gifted authors firmly in command of ...more
Ally Armistead
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Overall, a solid collection of voices "under 40." Most fascinating was the introduction by editor Deborah Treisman who explains her reasoning for an age-specific collection: "What we noticed while reading the works of close to a hundred and fifty novelists and short-story writers in this age group, however, was that, for many of them, there had come a point where things seemed to fall into place: the voice was suddenly distinct; the influences less blatant, more absorbed; the plotting more skill ...more
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
To put it simply: this was a great collection. More specifically, the standout stories were so great that they overshadowed the duller ones enough to warrant a four-star (maybe even 4.5-star) rating nonetheless. Those standouts, to me, were Téa Obreht's "Blue Water Djinn," Nicole Krauss's excerpt from Great House, "The Young Painters," Daniel Alarcón's excerpt from an unpublished book "Second Lives," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Birdsong," and Jonathan Safran Foer's "Here We Aren't, So Quickly." ...more
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
A good cross-section of fiction today. The stories here, like all New Yorker fiction, have strong voices, are rigorously edited, and carry themselves with a quiet and sometimes powerful subtlety. But there's that "sometimes." Reading all of these together brings out what they have in common--the problems of the literary New Yorker stories.

Short fiction still lives in the very long shadow of writers like James Joyce: slow moving plots that serve mainly to set up and examine a character or two, cr
Nov 11, 2011 rated it liked it
As the title suggests this book consists of twenty short stories by authors chosen by the editors of the New Yorker. All the authors are under forty years old. I thought it was a good introduction to promising writers. I enjoyed the stories, though reading them one after another was probably a mistake. After a couple of weeks, I found that I could barely remember them. Perhaps that is my age or my limitations as a fiction reader. One that did stick with me was by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum callet "Th ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I thought this collection was excellent. As other reviewers have noted, it is of course difficult to review such a range of stories, but I think Treisman et. al certainly did well by their task. To be sure, not all of the works selected represent the best of their authors' ouevres; they are not intended to do so, but rather to provide an introduction to each writer and his or her style, and at that I think they excelled. Of course, some stories stood out more than others, and for someone reading ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked some of these stories better than others, but overall I can understand why the authors were chosen for this collection. I'm a fan of Jonathan Safran Foer, and I especially liked his contribution; it was unlike any of the others. All were well-written, polished stories; I guess my only complaint would be that they all conform to the current idea of a literary short story: deep on character and setting, very little dialog for the most part, light on plot and very ambiguous on resolution. V ...more
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker, edited by Deborah Treisman collects 20 stories from the June 2010, annual summer fiction issue, and subsequent issues of the New Yorker written by 20 North American authors under the age of 40 that the New Yorker's editors expect to be among the most important authors of contemporary fiction in the coming decade. Young enough to be developing their art, but mature enough to have established their own unique voices, the authors are: Chimamanda Ngozi Adich ...more
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Jennifer Egan's story and Goon Squad ? 1 3 Apr 20, 2012 08:43AM  

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