The Boat by Nam Le

It’s been a big year for miracles – first Tony Abbott got rolled, then news broke of the Gilmore Girls revival, and now I’ve found a short story collection that I liked, nay loved. Just when I thought I was going to have my book-nerd membership revoked for disservices to stories, Nam Le has saved me with his collection, The Boat.

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All of the stories in this book are completely different and completely wonderful. The characters and narratives are fully realised and resolved – none left me feeling like I’d been cheated out of a plot, the way a lot of other short stories have.

It is an extremely diverse collection – ranging from freedom fighting in Tehran to a child assassin in Columbia to a coming-of-age story in rural Victoria – and each subject is tackled with sensitivity and respect. I was completely captivated from the first line of every single story, and it felt like I had known these characters for chapters rather than just pages, which is the sign of a perfect short story in my opinion.

If, like me, you have struggled to connect with short stories in the past, and you are just about ready to give up on the form altogether, I definitely recommend giving this one a go before you quit.

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