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The Book of Other People by Zadie Smith
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The Book of Other People (2008)

by Zadie Smith

Other authors: Daniel Clowes (Contributor), Edwidge Danticat (Contributor), Dave Eggers (Contributor), Andrew Sean Greer (Contributor), Aleksander Hemon (Contributor)19 more, A. M. Homes (Contributor), Nick Hornby (Contributor), Heidi Julavits (Contributor), Miranda July (Contributor), A.L. Kennedy (Contributor), Hari Kunzru (Contributor), Jonathan Lethem (Contributor), Toby Litt (Contributor), David Mitchell (Contributor), Andrew O'Hagan (Contributor), ZZ Packer (Contributor), Jonathan Safran Foer (Contributor), George Saunders (Contributor), Posy Simmonds (Illustrator), Zadie Smith (Contributor), Colm Tóibín (Contributor), Adam Thirlwell (Contributor), Vendela Vida (Contributor), Chris Ware (Contributor)

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English (13)  Spanish (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Some fantastic writers contribute to this anthology of short stories and vignettes. The proceeds are going to Dave Eggers’ 826NYC charity focused on helping children and teens develop their creative writing skills. Some of the stories I found thoughtful, thought provoking, entertaining and poignant, but I also found some flat, dull and overworked. Colm Toibin’s contribution is used as the opening story in his book “The Empty Family.” Nick Hornby gives us the evolution of a writer in his bio blurbs. Dave Eggers’ character is a lovelorn giant, and George Saunders wrote a story exploring two sides of devotion and love. The stories I did like--I really liked, so I found the book worth it. ( )
  elka.gimpel | Jan 12, 2014 |
As a whole this book was not a fun read. I would recommend skimming until you happen upon something you like. I did appreciate the exposure to writers I've never had the pleasure to read before. My favorites were (in order of appearance):

"Gideon" - ZZ Packer
"The Liar" - Aleksander Hemon
"Magda Mandela" - Hari Kunzru
"Puppey" - George Saunders
"Rhoda" - Jonathan Safran Foer
"Soleil" - Vendela Vida
"Roy Spivey" - Miranda July
"Cindy Stubenstock" - A. M. Homes
"Theo" - Dave Eggers ( )
  diovival | Oct 14, 2013 |
Quite good. Very much of its time. Mostly not boring. ( )
  annesadleir | Nov 20, 2012 |
There's a common consensus amongst booksellers, publishers and authors that short story anthologies don't sell nearly as well as novels. J.G. Ballard called them the "loose change in the treasury of fiction;" George Orwell thought that most modern short stories were "utterly lifeless and worthless, far more so than most novels." I've quoted Michael Chabon's perfect description on contemporary short stories so often on this blog I can't do it anymore in good consciensce.

I used to disagree with prevailing opinion, but I've read quite a few anthologies this year and I'm starting to realise I was wrong. Whether it's "Stories," "The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard," or "The Best Australian Stories 2010"... none of these books grabbed me. They all suffered from the weak links in the chain. I can count the number of short stories I have read in my entire life that I really, really enjoyed on the fingers of one hand.

I suspect I even suffer from the common bother of disliking short stories simply because, as Orwell pointed out, they're so truncated; you don't get a chance to unwind and stretch out, to really get to know the characters. The Book of Other People opens with a story by David Mitchell, my absolute favourite author of all time, yet it didn't really do anything for me. That didn't bode well for the rest of the collection, which mostly featured writers I'd never heard of.

I started reading short story anthologies in order to practice my own (a short story being a much quicker way for a young writer to achieve the validation of publication), but I think I'm getting fatigued from the constant disappointment. This is not to say that short story collections are usually bad - indeed, The Book of Other People isn't bad - but they are almost universally average and forgettable. I suppose an anthology actually subverts the purpose of a short story, which is supposed to be a quick dose of fiction, standing by itself and read in a single sitting. An anthology is an attempt to collate short stories into something more like a novel, and the stories suffer for the comparison. ( )
  edgeworth | Jul 3, 2011 |
This is a book of short stories from different authors and covers people and their different characters. To be honest a few of the stories were good but the majority were nothing special. I felt let down to be honest by this book I was expecting a lot more to it.

This book was not done for money as it all went to charity. A good cause in the end gained from this book. But to be honest I wondered if I would have enjoyed this more if they had been paid. Might have held my interest more. ( )
  StuartAston | Feb 23, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
In the end the reader of this volume will most likely hopscotch through this collection, skipping over the less satisfying entries to focus on its few gems. Indeed, the strongest stories in “The Book of Other People” should serve as introductions to their authors’ oeuvres, enticing the reader to investigate further the work of writers like Edwidge Danticat, Jonathan Lethem and Colm Toibin.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zadie Smithprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clowes, DanielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greer, Andrew SeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemon, AleksanderContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Homes, A. M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hornby, NickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Julavits, HeidiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
July, MirandaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, A.L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kunzru, HariContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Litt, TobyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Hagan, AndrewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Packer, ZZContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Safran Foer, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saunders, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simmonds, PosyIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tóibín, ColmContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thirlwell, AdamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vida, VendelaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ware, ChrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143038184, Paperback)

A stellar host of writers explore the cornerstone of fiction writing: character

The Book of Other People is about character. Twenty-five or so outstanding writers have been asked by Zadie Smith to make up a fictional character. By any measure, creating character is at the heart of the fictional enterprise, and this book concentrates on writers who share a talent for making something recognizably human out of words (and, in the case of the graphic novelists, pictures). But the purpose of the book is variety: straight "realism"-if such a thing exists-is not the point. There are as many ways to create character as there are writers, and this anthology features a rich assortment of exceptional examples.

The writers featured in The Book of Other People include:
Aleksandar Hemon
Nick Hornby
Hari Kunzru
Toby Litt
David Mitchell
George Saunders
Colm Tóibín
Chris Ware, and more


(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Presents a collection of short stories focusing on character development by a group of notable authors and graphic novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Chris Ware, Colm Tibn, and George Saunders.

» see all 2 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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