Top Reads 2021 | Fiction | Granta

Top Reads 2021 | Fiction

As the sun sets on 2021, revisit Granta’s top ten fiction pieces from the year.


Faith | Sayaka Murata (Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori)

‘It’s no good joining an existing cult, you have to start one yourself.’

A short story by Japanese author Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, and nominated for the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards. Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemori are the author and translator of Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings.



Have You Met Husband? | Amy Silverberg

‘Sometimes I stood at my refrigerator in various states of undress and tried different things out of cartons with a spoon, prodding the leftover Chinese noodles, my pulse quickening as though this wasn’t my food to begin with. I’d look over my shoulder like someone were about to catch me.’

New fiction by Amy Silverberg.



In Bright Light | Paul Dalla Rosa

‘The hard thing, as Alice saw it, was that something bad had happened to her and it was private and then it wasn’t.’

A story by Paul Dalla Rosa, from Granta 154: I’ve Been Away for a While.



My Phantoms | Gwendoline Riley

‘I’m not sure I even thought of him as a person, really. He was more just this – phenomenon.’

A chapter of Gwendoline Riley’s novel My Phantoms, available now from Granta Books.



Pebbles | Max Porter

‘It was the pre-internet days, small sad amounts of money, sad meetings in sad towns, then back to sad Karen and the screaming twins. ’

A new story by Max Porter.



Me, Rory and Aurora | Jonas Eika (Translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg)

‘The air grew hard between their shoulders where I was curled up, and then Rory turned onto his side and snuggled up to Aurora, saying hey or babe or some other conciliatory thing. I wanted to join in as usual, to wedge myself between their laps and start on both of them while they kissed, but it was their fight and I guess their make-up too.’

This story appears in After the Sun by Jonas Eika. Translated from the Danish by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg.



Your Delicate Body | Caleb Azumah Nelson

‘This pain isn’t new but it is unfamiliar, like finding a tear in a piece of fabric. You cry so hard you feel loose and limber and soft as a newborn. ’

An excerpt from Open Water, the debut novel by Caleb Azumah Nelson.



The Coming Bad Days | Sarah Bernstein

‘I left the man with whom I had been living one morning in late summer after opening the wardrobe and seeing the tidy line of his shirt collars, white and blue, white and blue. I felt sick. I began to see my life rolling out in front of me and it looked like the street on which we then lived, with the blue and green and white houses and the red and yellow doors.’

An excerpt from Sarah Bernstein’s debut novel, The Coming Bad Days.



I Cleaned The – | Kanya d’Almeida

‘As I proceed towards the dreadful climax her giggle turns into a cackle and then into a cough, that terrible broken-lorry-engine cough, until she is laughing and coughing so hard there is spittle and blood on her chin. I don’t find it funny at all but I indulge her because she’s dying.’

Granta publishes the winners of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.This story by Kanya d’Almeida was the regional winner for Asia and the overall winner.



Granddaughter of the Octopus | Rémy Ngamije

‘My grandmother always reminded me of Ursula, from the Disney version of The Little Mermaid.’

This story by Rémy Ngamije, a Caine Prize-shortlisted writer, was the regional winner for Africa of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.


Feature image © Ruben Balderas