For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

Spotlight: Ana María Shua: A Short Form List

Spotlight: Ana María Shua

Is it enough to simply be a Latin American woman or do we also have to demonstrate it? 

Ana María Shua

A spotlight on the Spanish-speaking's “Queen of the Microstory”

Ana María Shua in the foreward to Cruel Fictions, Cruel Realities

When Latin American writers are asked to contribute work for a women's anthology, our first reaction is not always positive; we often feel somewhat annoyed and distrustful. Once again we are being separated from the general current of literature, situated in a place where only women are allowed to enter, a small and isolated place where we will be protected but segregated. When we finally believed, after so many generations, that we had gained the freedom to wander all over the house, once again we are all sent packing to the kitchen, to the laundry room, to some place for women only.

Selected Stories

The Innovative Trapeze Artist
Full Story

As the years go by, the trapeze artist is conscious of repeating, of plagiarizing, himself. As with every artist, this awareness causes him grief. Seeking originality, he launches himself without a net, without a safety wire, and finally without a trapeze. But what is a trapeze artist without a trapeze if not a bloody heap on the sawdust of the circus ring and even then, what a shame, nothing original.

We read it in Without a Net.

Originally published in Catamaran Literary Reader: Issue 1.

Read five more micro stories on Catamaran Literary Reader's website

Children's Dreams

If your house is a maze and in each room there's something waiting for you, if the chalk drawings you scribbled on your bedroom wall come to life and in the living room your sister's head drips blood onto the green chair's fabric, if there are things playing with your plastic animals in the bathtub, don't worry, little one, they're only children's nightmares; you'll grow up, and afteward you'll get old, and afterward you won't have any more horrible dreams.

We read it in Microfictions.

Bed Time Story

It was in Paris that they set up the other bed, a little Paris apartment with a tiny bathroom and an impossible bed, a sunken-in, broken-down sommier and so little money that finally they thought of turning it upside down, legs up, mattress lodged between the legs, army blankets from the flea market, so threadbare and moth-eaten, and their good Argentine winter coats protecting them from the relentless, boring, long, sad Paris winter, and after a while the certainty that it wasn't there that they wanted to have their child, not in that city or in that bed. Then the return, they went back to that foam rubber mattress that hadn't been sold, nearly new, and there, in their forever city, her belly grew so large, she seemed so fragile and yet so tremendous, so regal, all-encompassing, dominant, that he got used to sleeping curled up in a ball, he got used to making himself smaller, occupying minimal space, a wise habit because before long there would be three of them in that bed, they brought the baby in with them just to nurse but soon all three of them slept there and as soon as she began to walk, those little steps invading at dawn, flip-flop, mother protesting, father hugging, sleeping on his side, lying almost on the bed frame, the tiny, spread-eagled princess happy in the middle of the bed, then they had others, each one in turn figuring out how to occupy the middle of the bed, sleeping meant sharing new smells, of diapers, urine, baby poop, fresh milk, sweat and spit-up, but eventually they also learned that children come and go away, and at last none of them remained.

A Profession Like Any Other

Don't move now. Look, it's going to be a little difficult to work on that molar from this angle. I'll have to go through your ear to reach it. I'll need to perforate the eardrum, but don't worry, I'll give you a little local anesthesia and you won't feel a thing. Just a little prick. That's right, don't move because if the scalpel slips it could cost you your brain. As I was saying, one becomes a bit of a practicing psychologist in this business. You can tell by a person's face if they're going to stiff you. If he weren't a cousin of yours, I never would have given that guy credit.

Minor Surgery

The doctor looks like the prosperous owner of a restaurant. It's possible to imagine him controlling the activities of his employees, the hunks of cooked ham that fall one by one onto the wax paper, opening the oven where the chickens slowly rotate so he can turn them one more time with his expert finishing touch. 

Laura can't take her eyes off his hands, those small fat hands that are going to work on her body. The doctor is reduced to a one-dimensional image of his hands moving efficiently, accepting the money, giving Laura a number that he tears off a green receipt book. It's number eleven, but don't worry, I'll call you early, the doctor assures them, speaking as if he were their friend.

Rumour in the Court
Full Story

It is said in the court of the czars that inside a bear of the forest of Y— there's a fox, and if you kill that fox and try to skin it you will see a duck come out of its belly, and inside of this duck, which is female, there's an egg, and if you break this egg you will find a silver brooch into the index finger of the czar's son, the empire will be destroyed and the court scattered and the czars will die and their elders and vassals and relatives will die. It's true that the forests of Y— are fenced off and guarded, but there are many hunters. It is suspected that these include members of the guard itself. In any case it's October and it's cold.

We read it in Quick Fiction: 10.