Cover image for The Columbia companion to the twentieth-century American short story
The Columbia companion to the twentieth-century American short story
Gelfant, Blanche H., 1922-
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 660 pages ; 24 cm
Pt. 1. Thematic essays -- African American short story -- Asian American short story -- Chicano-Latino short story -- Ecological short story -- Lesbian and gay short stories -- Native American short story -- American short stories of the Holocaust -- Pt. 2. Individual writers and their work.
Reading Level:
1400 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.S5 C57 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
PS374.S5 C57 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material

On Order



Esteemed critic Blanche Gelfant's brilliant companion gathers together lucid essays on major writers and themes by some of the best literary critics in the United States. Part 1 is comprised of articles on stories that share a particular theme, such as "Working Class Stories" or "Gay and Lesbian Stories." The heart of the book, however, lies in Part 2, which contains more than one hundred pieces on individual writers and their work, including Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, Eudora Welty, Andre Debus, Zora Neal Hurston, Anne Beattie, Bharati Mukherjee, J. D. Salinger, and Jamaica Kincaid, as well as engaging pieces on the promising new writers to come on the scene.

Author Notes

Blanche H. Gelfant: For many years she was the Robert E. Maxwell Professor in the Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth. In recognition of her contributions as critic and scholar, the American Literature Division of the Modern Language Association has honored professor Gelfant with the Jay B. Hubbell Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

These two titles share the topic of short stories. There is an overlap of 16 writers who are represented in both books, but there are also important differences between the covers. The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story begins with 11 essays on broad topics such as "The American Short Story, 1807-1900," "The African American Short Story," and "American Short Stories of the Holocaust." After the general essays, some 113 author essays are arranged alphabetically, from Adams, Alice to Yezierska, Anzia. Each contains a brief biographical sketch, an overview of the writer's career and major contributions, an analysis of some stories, and a selected bibliography. Essays range in length from four pages to a maximum of eight pages. Many of the writers covered--among them James Baldwin, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, and Edith Wharton--are firmly established in the canon, although there are also some relative newcomers, such as Rick Bass, Sandra Cisneros, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Greenwood's book presents 47 contemporary short story writers whose major works were produced in the latter part of the twentieth century (1960s on), among them Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, and Maxine Hong Kingston. More than half come from ethnic groups who were not recognized in this field until the 1980s. Among them are American writers of Jewish, African, Native American, Asian, and Latin American descent. Other writers come from Great Britain, Africa, Canada, Ireland, West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa. Approximately 30 of the writers are women. Entries begin with biographical information, followed by a brief review of existing criticism, a more detailed analysis of specific works, and a selected bibliography. The chapters about each writer vary in length from as little as 4 pages to as many as 15 pages for Robert Coover. The Columbia Companion offers deeper coverage of American short stories, while A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English provides a more global perspective. Both would be an asset to library collections at the high-school and college levels. Another fine volume, The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story [RBB S 1 00], covers American writers from the early nineteenth through the twentieth centuries and has entries for literary terms and theories, influential magazines, important collections, awards, notable characters, and subgenres, as well as for authors.

Library Journal Review

Gelfant, former Robert E. Maxwell Professor in the Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth, has edited an eminently useful work. While there are other books on short stories and on the authors included here, this resource is unusually well done. The first 100 pages are devoted to thematic essays that focus on the form of the short story, the development of the genre, several distinct subject types (e.g., short stories of the Holocaust or of the working class), and four different ethnic groups (African American, Asian American, Chicano Latino American, and Native American). These especially well-crafted essays weave history and context around specific stories to illustrate points for further discussion. The remainder of the book is devoted to over 100 individual author essays that focus on reading for pleasure and understanding rather than critical interpretation. Entries discuss the development of each author and the content and meaning of his or her major short stories. From Hemingway and Raymond Carver to Elizabeth McCracken and Lorrie Moore, the writers included represent a wide range of time periods and styles. It is, perhaps, the bane of any collection that space limits who can be included, and this work does omit some authors most readers would expect to see. Kate Chopin and Stephen Crane, for example, are discussed only in the thematic essays. The collection also offers little on new short story writers who are expanding both the genre and its readership. Despite these small questions of coverage, this wonderful resource is essential for academic libraries and is highly recommended for public and school libraries.-Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Particularly useful because it includes contemporary authors who are difficult to find, this new companion, edited by literary scholar Gelfant (formerly arts and sciences, Dartmouth), contains 11 thematic and 113 biographical essays. The thematic essays introduce the short story, focusing on broad categories such as Native American, Asian American, the American story of the Holocaust, and the American working-class story. Some author entries treat well-known writers (e.g., Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, London); others cover "promising new writers" (e.g., Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Larry Brown, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, David Leavitt). Articles about authors include brief biographies, a sense of the author's style and major motifs, and analyses of several short stories. Concise bibliographies conclude every entry. The writing is uniformly excellent, and the efficient index includes authors, story titles, book titles, and subjects. Gelfant includes 62 authors not found in Reference Guide to Short Fiction, ed. by Noelle Watson (CH, Jul'94), and the volumes of Dictionary of Literary Biography that cover short stories provide longer, illustrated articles with more biographical information but fewer authors. Undergraduate and graduate students and researchers. J. E. Sheets Baylor University

Table of Contents

I Thematic Essays
The American Short Story Cycle
The American Short Story, 1807-1900
The African American Short Story
The Asian American Short Story
The Chicano-Latino Short Story
The Ecological Short Story
Lesbian and Gay Short Stories
The Native American Short Story
Non-English American Short Stories
The American Working-Class Short Story
American Short Stories of the Holocaust
II Individual Writers and Their Work
Alice Adams (1926-1999)
Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
John Barth (1930- )
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)
Rick Bass (1959- )
Richard Bausch (1945- )
Charles Baxter (1947- )
Ann Beattie (1947- )
Saul Bellow (1915- )
Gina Berriault (1926- )
Doris Betts (1932- )
Paul Bowles (1910-1999)
Kay Boyle (1902-1992)
Ray Bradbury (1920- )
Kate Braverman (1950- )
Larry Brown (1951- )
Erskine Caldwell (1903-1987)
Hortense Calisher (1911- )
Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Raymond Carver (1938-1988)
Willa Cather (1873-1947)
John Cheever (1912-1982)
Sandra Cisneros (1954- )
Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1909-1971)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (1930- )
Robert Coover (1932- )
Lydia Davis (1947- )
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (1953- )
Andre Dubus (1936-1999)
Deborah Eisenberg (1946- )
Stanley Elkin (1930-1995)
George P. Elliott (1918-1980)
John Fante (1909-1983)
James T. Farrell (1904-1979)
William Faulkner (1897-1962)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Richard Ford (1944- )
Mary Gaitskill (1954- )
William H. Gass (1924- )
Ellen Gilchrist (1935- )
Herbert Gold (1924- )
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Amy Hempel (1951- )
Mary Hood (1946- )
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965)
Jamaica Kincaid (1949- )
Ring Lardner (1885-1933)
David Leavitt (1961- )
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929- )
Meridel Le Sueur (1900-1996)
Shirley Geok-lin Lim (1944- )
Jack London (1876-1916)
David Wong Louie (1954- )
Norman Mailer (1923- )
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)
Bobbie Anne Mason (1940- )
Mary McCarthy (1912-1989)
Elizabeth McCracken (1966- )
Carson McCullers (1917-1967)
Thomas McGuane (1939- )
James Alan McPherson (1943- )
Nicholasa Mohr (1938- )
Lorrie Moore (1957- )
Toshio Mori (1910-1980)
Bharati Mukherjee (1940- )
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
Joyce Carol Oates (1938- )
Tim O'Brien (1946- )
Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
John O'Hara (1905-1970)
Tillie Olsen (1913?- )
Simon Ortiz (1941- )
Cynthia Ozick (1928- )
Grace Paley (1922- )
Américo Paredes (1915-1999)
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Jayne Anne Phillips (1952- )
Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) (1862-1910)
E. Annie Proulx (1935- )
Thomas Pynchon (1937- )
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953)
Alberto Alvaro Ríos (1952- )
Philip Roth (1933- )
Damon Runyon (1880-1946)
J. D. Salinger (1919- )
Bienvenido N. Santos (1911-1996)
William Saroyan (1908-1981)
Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966)
Leslie Marmon Silko (1948- )
Jean Stafford (1915-1979)
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993)
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
Elizabeth Tallent (1954- )
Peter Taylor (1917-1994)
James Thurber (1894-1961)
John Updike (1932- )
Helena María Viramontes (1954- )
Anna Lee Walters (1946- )
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Sylvia A. Watanabe (1953- )
Eudora Welty (1909- )
Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
Joy Williams (1944- )
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Tobias Wolff (1945- )
Richard Wright (1908-1960)
Hisaye Yamamoto (1921- )
Anzia Yezierska (1881-1970)