In her choices, series editor Laura Furman casts a wide net with respect to setting, narration, characters, etc. Some are the work of well-known writers - Alice Munro, Ha Jin, Edward P. Jones, Mary Gaitskill - others come from relative newcomers. My favorites among this year's stories include
Anthony Doerr, an author well known for his attention to the natural world, reimagines China's Three Gorges Dam project, in which villages were flooded and millions of residents displaced, through the eyes of his narrator, known simply as "the seed keeper."
"The Necessity of Certain Behaviors"
In Shannon Cain's story, which first appeared in the New England Review, a woman's separation from her eco-tourism group lands her in a remote village in which she finds the rules of society and intimacy more appealing than those of her own world.
"A Composer and His Parakeets"
Ha Jin spins a tale in which a Chinese-American musician learns something about love and artistic inspiration from his girlfriend's parakeet.
"A Change in Fashion"
Steven Millhauser's sardonic entry seems less of a story and more of an article clipped out of a fashion magazine from the future. "A Change in Fashion" employs no actual characters in describing the "Age of Concealment," a period during which young women's fashion took a drastic (and rather humorous) turn.