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The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story

Sandra Cisneros, Manuel Muñoz, and George Saunders
In Conversation With John Freeman
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Episode Summary

Over the last half-century, the American short has changed dramatically. In a new anthology, the best and most representative contemporary authors are celebrated for their thrilling range of voice, form, and talent. Selected by John Freeman, the editor of his own literary annual of new writing and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf, this collection brings forward some astonishing work to be regarded in a new light. With rarely anthologized science fiction, horror, and fantasy writers such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Ken Liu, and Stephen King, next to some of the often-taught geniuses of the form—Grace Paley, Toni Cade Bambara, Sandra Cisneros, and Denis Johnson, this wide-reaching collection also includes generally overlooked tales by Dorothy Allison, Charles Johnson, and Toni Morrison. Freeman will share this exciting new treasure trove with ALOUD, as a few of the authors join him for a special reading and conversation.

Participant(s) Bio

John Freeman is the editor of Freeman's, a literary annual of new writing, and executive editor of Literary Hub. His books include How to Read a Novelist and Dictionary of the Undoing, as well as Tales of Two Americas, an anthology about income inequality in America, and Tales of Two Planets, an anthology of new writing about inequality and the climate crisis globally. He is also the author of two collections of poems, Maps and The Park. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The New York Times. The former editor of Granta, he teaches writing at New York University.

Sandra Cisneros is a poet, short story writer, novelist, and essayist whose work explores the lives of the working class. Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship, the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature, and the National Medal of the Arts, awarded to her by President Obama in 2016. Her novel The House on Mango Street has sold over six million copies, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is required reading in elementary, high school, and universities across the nation. A new book, Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo, a story in English and in Spanish, will be published in 2021. Cisneros is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico and earns her living by her pen.

Manuel Muñoz is the author of two collections of short stories, Zigzagger and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. His first novel, What You See in the Dark, was published in 2011. Three of his short stories have received the O. Henry Prize, and one was chosen for inclusion in Best American Short Stories. The Consequences, Muñoz’sthird collection, will be published by Graywolf Press.

George Saunders is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten books, including Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Man Booker Prize; Congratulations, by the way; Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award; The Braindead Megaphone; and the critically acclaimed short story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.