Arts and Entertainment

Some great authors have published their worst works from beyond the grave. A few though, keep getting better when they’re dead, such as the Chilean novelist and short story writer, Roberto Bolaño. His seminal five-part novel, 2666, came out posthumously, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and convinced the world he was not just a master of the short form but could put out his life’s best work at nearly 900 pages, even after death.

Easier With Practice (15)

Starring: Brian Geraghty, Kel O'Neill

The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story, Edited by Anne Enright

Out with old Troubles, in with the new

While The Women Are Sleeping, By Javier Marías, trans. Margaret Jull Costa

Javier Marías, born in 1951 and alongside Enrique Vila-Matas and Roberto Bolaño one of the outstanding names in an extraordinary generation of Spanish-language novelists, first came to prominence in the English-speaking world with his novel All Souls, a clever and extremely funny account of his alter-ego's spell as a lecturer at Oxford. His recent trilogy, Your Face Tomorrow, has earned comparisons with Proust for incisive examination of character.

O Caledonia and short stories, By Elspeth Barker

Elspeth Barker's is a wholly original literary voice. O Caledonia, first published 20 years ago, reads as freshly now as then. Steeped in classical allusions, rich in Scottish – and natural – history, fantastical in its highly wrought characters, this coming-of-age-novella is as passionately intense as it is wittily acerbic.

Shun-kin, Barbican, London

When Simon McBurney and Complicite first collaborated with Tokyo's Setagaya Public Theatre, the result was The Elephant Vanishes, a brilliant evocation of several Murakami short stories about the dizziness brought on by the 24/7 relentlessness of contemporary urban life. Their latest venture is markedly different in its cultural focus.

And Thereby Hangs a Tale, By Jeffrey Archer

Ten of these short stories are marked with an asterisk, to indicate that Jeffrey Archer didn't invent them; they were told to him by other people. The remaining five are "the result of my imagination". An interesting divide, especially as the majority of the stories told to him seem to concern cons and money, and the ones he made up flash their outcomes on huge neon signs from the outset. (The protagonist of "Blind Date", for example, is a man who is blind, chatting up a woman in a café. And can you guess, when she leaves, that she, too, turns out to be... No, I won't spoil it for you.)

Circus Bulgaria, By Deyan Enev

A magical portrait of Bulgaria

EC Tubb: Seminal writer who was a mainstay of the British science fiction scene for half a century

With his work translated into more than a dozen languages, EC Tubb was well known to readers of science fiction the world over. He was extraordinarily prolific. Beginning in 1951, he published over 130 novels and more than 230 short stories in such magazines as Astounding/Analog, Authentic, Galaxy, Nebula, New Worlds,Science Fantasy, Vision of Tomorrow, and more recently in Fantasy Adventures. Many of his short stories were reprinted in various "World's Best SF" anthologies, and his story "Lucifer" won the Europa Prize in 1972. Tubb was appointed editor of Authentic Science Fiction in 1956, and edited it with great panache until its unnecessary demise in 1957.

The Mechanics' Institute Review

A seasoned reader might pick up this collection of 26 stories produced by the students on Birkbeck's creative writing MA course with a small internal groan, but the quality is suprisingly high with little signs of laboured, classroom learning.

Tall tales: Meet the storytellers spinning edgy new yarns for the digital age

Spinning a good yarn is the most ancient of entertainments – but thanks to the iPod generation, it's getting a new lease of life

Granta 111: Going Back, ed John Freeman

This superb collection of short stories, memoir, artwork and poetry, loosely connected to the theme of "going back", includes contributions by Seamus Heaney and Joseph O'Neill, letters by Iris Murdoch and a recollection of his uncle's farm by Mark Twain. About as eclectic as you can get, then – but that doesn't mean unfocused.

The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis, By Lydia Davis

Feelings trump specifics in these moving miniatures

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, By Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer's latest novel is in fact two long short stories, one set in Venice and one in the Indian city of Varanasi. Each story shares the same protagonist – a middle-aged hack called Jeff, who might, or might not, share much in common with his creator, Geoff.

Rob Sharp: Short stories wanted...

In November I asked a couple of my literary-minded colleagues to recommend some short stories to me.

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