The first collection of short stories by Jim Shepard - widely regarded to be one of the best living short story writers in America - to be published in the UK
A fantastic writer - compassionate, funny and fearless' George Saunders
'One of the US's finest writers' according to Joshua Ferris, Jim Shepard now delivers a new collection that spans borders and centuries with unrivalled mastery.
These ten stories ring with voices as diverse as those belonging to Arctic explorers in history's most nightmarish expedition, the Montgolfier brothers competing to be the first man to fly, and two American frontierswomen whose passionate connection is severed by jealous husbands and a deadly snowstorm.
In each case the personal is the political as these humans, while falling in love or negotiating marital pitfalls or simply coming to terms with their own failings, face the tidal wave of nature's indifference and cruelty. History has swept them from our sympathy; Jim Shepard has reached into the past and sought them out.
In his first collection to be published in the UK, this celebrated master of the short story displays his formidable acuity in imagining these wildly different worlds, and what our various lives feel like in the grip of catastrophe.
Jim Shepard is the National Book Award-finalist and highly acclaimed author of seven novels and five collections of stories, including The Book of Aron and Like You'd Understand, Anyway. He lives in Massachusetts with his family and teaches creative writing at the historic liberal arts establishment Williams College. Widely acclaimed as one of the US's finest writers, The World to Come is the first collection of his short stories to be published in the UK.
A fantastic writer - compassionate, funny and fearless . . . inspires us to look more closely at life, and be more caring — George Saunders
What is so impressive is how Shepard extrapolates what's constant about the human condition . . . The result is as warm as it is devastating, and somehow exorcises existential terror . . . Shepard's characters may not endure, but his prose will. — Jamie Fisher, Times Literary Supplement
Scrupulously researched and sumptuous in detail . . . This collection delivers that beguiling dichotomy of what we understand from history - the pointlessness of our experiences in the cosmos - yet the universality of our most intimate experiences: our crises of conscience, our secret desires, our fragility. — Ruth McKee, Irish Times
Remarkable for their sheer range . . . Everything he writes is enriched by an underlying magnanimity. — Phil Baker, Sunday Times
In ten meticulously researched stories, Shepard elegantly places the emotional dilemmas of morose, melancholy, misunderstood characters against backdrops that emphasise the vastness of the world and the smallness of their hopes and dreams . . . Wonderful — Eithne Farry, Daily Mail
Retelling 'real' stories is Shepard's forte. He is a dramatist with a reporter's dispassion. The measured tone is pitch
perfect. There is no sense of sensationalism, no over-emoting, no embellishment. He lets his facts do the talking and in several of the stories in The World to Come the effect is devastating and affecting . . . He is a terrific writer whose arrival on these shores is long overdue.
— Alan Taylor, Glasgow Herald
Greedier writers would spin entire novels out of just one of the richly weird, hilariously bizarre premises that distinguish a Jim Shepard story. His stories can be set in any corner of the world, at any era in time, and there is no oddment or calamity of the human experience Shepard does not find fascinating. His stories are droll, action packed, ingenious and finally moving. — Colin Barrett
An outrageously versatile and gifted fiction writer, Shepard continues his original, precise exploration of times and places long ago and far, far away . . . Shepard's project is always to push toward that sense of wonder and the 'high hopefulness' of purpose that ordinary people have always brought to the project of living - to give us through fiction a sense of profound empathy that the historical record alone cannot. He most stunningly succeeds — Washington Post
Like Alice Munro, Shepard has a knack for compressing a novel's worth of life into thirty or forty pages . . . It all adds up to a peculiar yet arresting vision, as Shepard lets you see a startling variety of dangers and conundrums through the eyes of characters who, poignantly or even despairingly, can't quite summon the humanity that's hidden away in them — Boston Globe
This is what you get with Shepard's short stories - weight and validity, lingo and precision . . . This approach gives the individual stories heft and the collections a dizzying range . . . What impresses is his ability to convey compressed, cinematic action. He knows when to pop rivets and bend structures, add histrionics as well as saltwater stocism . . . Shepard's beautifully researched creations inhabit different eras — New York Times
Ten exceptionally powerful tales of courageous responsibility and criminal indifference . . . Throughout this masterful, profoundly involving collection, Shepard elucidates with stirring precision the emotions of characters ambushed by terrifying powers beyond their control — Booklist
Let's hope Jim Shepard becomes as influential as he should be. He's the best we've got — Dave Eggers
His insight is humbling, deeply grained, outrageously perceptive and full of a signature humour . . . If you haven't read Shepard, you should, because he's also one of the US's finest writers, full of wit, humanity and fearless curiosity . . . It's a hell of a thing to walk the earth with Jim Shepard — Joshua Ferris, Guardian
[An] American master — O, the Oprah Magazine