The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol
Short stories are a fascinating aspect of literature. The author has such a short time to introduce and develop characters and their world. A good short is well crafted and honed and can be incredibly poignant. Collected shorts add another layer of difficulty if the author or editor is trying to have an overarching theme. Come collections are easily done by picking a common subject, but a well done collection will have variety in the individual stories, but have a solid, continuous topic throughout the stories that is just as moving as the individual stories. Molly Anotopol’s UnAmericans is a solid collection that does this very thing.
Antopol’s stories are set in a variety of locations around the world, including America. The linking elements are the characters and how they address their own sense of alienation and discord. The majority of the characters have Eastern European heritage and/or are Jewish. They all experience estrangement from their faith, their ideologies, their friends, their family, their homes. Each of the characters is flawed in their alienation, but Antopol crafts each of characters with a persuasive level of detail and complexity that makes them seem real and lends credence to the stories.
While not every story will ring with every reader, everyone is bound to find something compelling in this collection. I would definitely recommend this for any fans of short stories and of flawed characters.