The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is a collection of short, sweet and poignant stories which traverse a variety of themes including culture and cultural differences, religion, women’s rights, relationships and love, violence, and friendship.
As a Nigerian-American, Adichie provides a refreshingly new perspective and voice which contrasts with the white perspective and voice which seems to dominate the literary world. Adichie strikes a perfect balance between too much mystery and too much information, providing you with just enough to understand the characters without getting bogged down in the minutiae of their lives.
The Promise, Common People, Father’s Day and Shadowboxing, all by Tony Birch
Tony Birch’s short stories are fantastic. Set in Melbourne, his stories feature gritty, often troubled characters who are just trying to get by in life. Each story sucks you in and you become invested in it such that when it ends you are devastated. But then you start reading the next story, and immediately you’re invested in it.
Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven
This book won the David Unaipon Award in 2013. It is a lovely collection of short stories which, like all good short stories, completely draw you in, only to spit you out the other side. You become totally invested in each character’s life and fate, only to be left hanging and wondering what did happen next. What I particularly loved about the collection was that many of the stories feature gay or queer characters, characters who sadly remain quite rare in works of fiction.