A powerful selection of the best of John Edgar Wideman’s short stories over his fifty-year career, representing the wide range of his intellectual and artistic pursuits.
When John Edgar Wideman won the PEN Malamud Award in 2019, he joined a list of esteemed writers—from Eudora Welty to George Saunders—all of whom are acknowledged masters of the short story. Wideman’s commitment to short fiction has been lifelong, and here he gathers a representative selection from throughout his career, stories that challenge what defines, separates, and unites us; dare to push form and defy convention; and, to quote Wideman, seek to “deconstruct the given formulas of African American culture and life.”
Wideman’s stories are grounded in the streets and the people of Homewood, the Pittsburgh neighborhood of his childhood, but they range far beyond there, to the small western towns of Wyoming and historic Philadelphia, the contemporary world and the ancient past. He explores the interior lives of his characters, and the external pressures that shape them. These stories are as intellectually intricate as they are rich with the language and character. “John Edgar Wideman’s short stories render an internal and external world as vivid and intricate as Faulkner’s, as emotionally painful as Baldwin’s, and as unique as his own streets and stoops of Homewood,” wrote the PEN/Malamud Award selection committee.