Although it’s always rewarding to take another look at The New Yorker’s most-read stories of the year (and this year’s include memorable pieces by such authors as Haruki Murakami, Zadie Smith, Karen Russell, and Jhumpa Lahiri, as well as, not surprisingly, last year’s most-read fiction piece, Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person”), we’d like to look back at the fiction writers who were published in The New Yorker for the first time in 2018 and appreciate the range, the verve, the urgency, and the delicacy of these emerging—or fully emerged—voices.
2018 in Review
New Yorker writers reflect on the year’s best.
Among them are three writers published in translation. Scholastique Mukasonga is a Rwandan author whose story “Cattle Praise Song” depicts Tutsi life before and after the devastation of the Rwandan genocide. Linn Ullmann, whose “Time for the Eyes to Adjust” looks at a child’s summers on a remote island with her film-director father, is a Norwegian novelist and literary critic. Lu Yang, whose metafictional portrait of a rural boyhood, “Silver Tiger,” appeared in our summer Fiction Issue, was part of China’s literary avant-garde in the nineteen-nineties but stopped publishing in the early two-thousands because, as he noted, “when writing departs from a true exploration of the spirit and becomes associated with vanity and gain it loses all meaning.” (He was inspired to pick up his pen again a couple of years ago, after translating Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”)
The author Tommy Orange.
Photograph by Christopher Thompson / NYT / Redux
The stories written in English also explore a sweeping, border-crossing spectrum of human experience. In Sadia Shepard’s “Foreign-Returned,” a Pakistani couple struggles to build a professional and social life in Connecticut. In Tommy Orange’s “The State,” a Native American janitor and drummer reflects on his complicated family history. In Sam Allingham’s “The Intermediate Class,” a Russian-American man attempts to befriend his fellow-students in a German-language course. In Weike Wang’s “Omakase,” a Chinese-American woman tries to understand her white boyfriend’s interest in her. And in Bryan Washington’s “Waugh,” a homeless kid finds a kind of community with other boys working the streets in Houston.
“Only connect!” E. M. Forster preached in his novel “Howard’s End.” “Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.” At the end of a sometimes disorienting year, we hope you’ll enjoy these stories about the many ways in which we try to connect with others.
“The Intermediate Class,” by Sam Allingham
“When I ring this bell, we will no longer speak English. If anyone speaks English, I will act as if I don’t understand.” Read more.
“Cattle Praise Song,” by Scholastique Mukasonga
“Every man had something to say about the cows he’d once owned and those he would perhaps, one day, own again.” Read more.
“The State,” by Tommy Orange
“You’re from a people who took and took and took and took. And from a people taken. You’re both and neither.” Read more.
“Foreign-Returned,” by Sadia Shepard
“He had spent his entire life in Pakistan as part of the majority. What would it feel like, he wondered, to consider America home?” Read more.
“Time for the Eyes to Adjust,” by Linn Ullmann
“My father has four houses, two cars, five wives, one swimming pool, nine children, and one cinema.” Read more.
2018 in Review
The Not-So-Uplifting Year in the Animal Kingdom
The Best Theatre of 2018
The Best Outfits of 2018
More Books We Loved in 2018
Trump in 2018: A Cartoon Review
The Year in Trump Freakouts
“Omakase,” by Weike Wang
“She didn’t want to sound insane, yet she also didn’t want to be a quiet little flower. So there she was, saying nothing but oscillating between these two extremes.” Read more.
“Waugh,” by Bryan Washington
“Rod wasn’t their pimp, but you’d be a fool to tell him that.” Read more.
“Silver Tiger,” by Lu Yang
“I fought the silver tiger for three days and three nights. During those three days and nights I lost all awareness of anything else in the hospital.” Read more.