In our era of short attention spans and commuting, I am at a loss to understand the way that publishers, both in Britain and France, tend to repeat the clich? that "short stories don't sell", meaning that they can't sell collections of short-stories.
Well, some collections of short stories do sell. Publishers take note: the French author Anna Gavalda has sold 1,577,000 copies in France of her collection entitled Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part. These are supposed to be (I haven't read them) straightforward stories from everyday life, and evidently appeal to a lot of people.
I've already posted things here on two collections of short stories in translation (by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and Friedebert Tuglas) and wonder why far more authors of short stories aren't translated. After all, some authors such as (at random) Katherine Mansfield, Jorge Lu?s Borges, Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, D.H. Lawrence, Saki, Edgar Allen Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Isaac Babel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Angela Carter, Julio Cort?zar, Ernest Hemingway, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a whole host of others managed to get famous by writing stories. Just have a look at:
if you are in doubt.
So what have short stories done wrong? Why do publishers and booksellers try to flog 600-page potboilers, but not books of short stories? Where there's a will there's a way.
Short stories are also a way of introducing authors from abroad. When an author isn't well known, piloting short stories in literary magazines is one way of drawing the attention of Britons and Americans to new names.
Do the rest of you read short stories in translation? If so, which authors?