Each year SELECTED SHORTS partners with the distinguished fiction anthology The Best American Short Stories, and asks its guest editor to select works for performance. In 2016, the editor was Junot Diaz, and he says (in remarks we share on this program) that “he lost a lot of sleep” and read each story three times to be sure not to miss the quiet stories that eventually amaze.
We feature three of his picks on this show, presented by guest host Cynthia Nixon. An American student meets her Ethiopian relatives in Meron Hadero’s “The Suitcase.” Meron Hadero is an Ethiopian-American writer and a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She’s a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and an editor for the online fiction journal The Offing.
Reader Renée Elise Goldsberry is a Tony Award winner for her work in “Hamilton.” Other stage work includes “The Color Purple,” “Rent,” and “The Lion King.” On television she’s appeared on “The Good Wife,” and is a Daytime Emmy winner for her work on “One Life to Live.”
Our second story, Daniel O’Malley’s “The Bridge,” takes us to the rural back country, where a home-schooled young boy sees something unbelievable and tries to make sense of it. Daniel O’Malley’s stories have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review (the source of this story), Ninth Letter, Meridian, The Baltimore Review, and Third Coast, among other publications, and his writing about fiction has appeared in Tin House and online at The Millions. He teaches creative writing at Marshall University.
Reader Joan Allen won a Tony Awardf or her Broadway debut in “Burn This.” She is also a three-time Academy Award nominee for her work in “Nixon,” “The Crucible,” and “The Contender.” Allen began her acting career with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, and her stage credits include “And a Nightingale Sang,” “The Heidi Chronicles,” “Three Sisters,” and “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.” On television she starred in the “The Family.”
An endangered Puerto Rican parrot pleads for compassion in our final story, “The Great Silence,” by Ted Chiang. Chiang is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer (including the Hugo and Nebula awards) and author of the story collection Stories of Your Life and Others, and well as the novellas and novelettes Hell is the Absence of God, The Lifecycle of Software Objects, and The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate.
Reader Elizabeth Rodriguez is best known for her work on the television series “Orange Is the New Black.” She was also featured as a series regular on the first season of “Fear the Walking Dead.” On Broadway she received a Tony Award nomination, and won the Outer Critics Circle Award as well as a Theatre World Award, for her performance in “The Motherfucker with the Hat.”