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20 stories, 20 writers: new O. Henry collection

The 2010 O. Henry Prize brings together a collection of twenty brilliant short stories from some of the most prestigious literary magazines in America. One of the preeminent awards in short fiction, this year’s winners tackle an eccentric array of subjects and characters, ranging from a risk-taking Nigerian woman living in the late nineteenth century to a laborer who is abandoned by his family in old age. Luckily for short story enthusiasts around the world, some of the winners are available online. Here are three from The New Yorker, including works by  Brad Watson, author of “Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives”;  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “Half of a Yellow Sun,” and  Daniyal Mueenuddin, author of “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.”

  1. Visitation
    By Brad Watson: “Lately, his son had been watching cartoons made in the Japanese anime style. Loomis thought the animation was wooden and amateurish. He didn’t get it at all. The characters were drawn as angularly as origami, which he supposed was appropriate and maybe even intentional, if the influence was Japanese.”
  2. The Headstrong Historian
    By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Once, at a moonlight gathering, the square full of women telling stories and learning new dances, a group of girls saw Nwamgba and began to sing, their aggressive breasts pointing at her. She asked if they would mind singing a little louder, so that she could hear the words and then show them who was the greater of two tortoises. They stopped singing.”
  3. A Spoiled Man
    By Daniyal Mueenuddin: “Life and hope, the flames of individuality that had burned out to nothing, to smoke, again flickered within him. Returning at night from the bazaar with a treat of late-season mangos or a bit of meat, or stopping work in the orchard at noon to have his midday meal, which the girl warmed and served to him with hot chapatis, he looked forward to her chattering.”

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