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The Independent Culture
2 First Fictions: Introduction 12, Faber pounds 6.99. Linda Redshaw was a brave choice as opener for this anthology of five writers, with her initially opaque study of the effects of the heritage industry on former mining communities. Only great con-fidence lets her get away with the line "I longed for developments in the couple's story, to break the tedium." You hack the sense slowly out of her granite prose, but it's worth it to free a glittering, writhing story.

Vikram Chandra's soapy account of Bombay society rivalries is refreshingly light, but stretched over 38 pages there's nothing much to get in a lather about. And just as you think Matthew Kramer is good at imaginative language but short on imagination, he stirs up a beguiling cocktail of eroticism and alienation in "The South".

Rosario Ferre contributes refined exoticism from Puerto Rico, and Suzanne Cleminshaw, an American decamped to Norfolk, allows her stories to emerge by a combination of narrative elision and a voice which manages to be throwaway and yet contain images such as "choking back yawns like snakes swallowing mice".

Until someone commissions a follow-up to Picador's "20 Under 35", this remains the best place to find new short story writing talent in book form. Nicholas Royle