By: EM PERPER

Summer is the perfect time to read short stories, a tragically underrated genre. You can squeeze in a story while waiting for your kid to leave summer camp or on your lunch break. You can read an entire collection during a day at the beach or a different story each night before bed. Here are three recently released collections you might’ve missed:

Foreign Soil: And Other Stories by Maxine Beneba Clark

A message in a bottle engulfed in flame, a needle with an impossibly short thread, and an upside-down bottle of red nail polish are just three of the vivid illustrations emblazoned on the cover of Foreign Soil. Its author, Maxine Beneba Clark, is a slam poet champ and writer from Melbourne, Australia. An asylum seeker, a militant Black man, a housewife, and a schoolgirl are only a fraction of the astonishing characters populating this collection. Clark is Afro-Caribbean, and themes of diaspora, identity, and longing permeate her gripping stories. (Simon & Schuster, $22)

The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories by Osama Alomar

Osama Alomar was born in Damascus, Syria, and now lives in exile in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The stories in The Teeth of the Comb, translated from Arabic by C.J. Collins, range from the short (three pages long) to the very short (just one sentence!) Consider the titular story:

Some of the teeth of the comb were envious of the class differences that exist between humans. They strived desperately to increase their height, and, when they succeeded, began to look with disdain on their colleagues below.

After a little while the comb’s owner felt a desire to comb his hair. But when he found the comb in this state he threw it in the garbage.

Alomar’s bite-sized fables are sharp and poignant and will leave you reeling. (W.W. Norton, $14)

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

When my best friend and fellow bibliophile Lindsey visited Curious Iguana during a trip home, she pointed out Things We Lost in the Fire on our short stories shelf. A bookseller in Lindsey’s city, Richmond, spoke highly of the collection, and she was eager to pass on the recommendation. Argentinian author Mariana Enriquez’s haunting, haunted style has been compared to Shirley Jackson, who you know from such uncanny delights as The Haunting on Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Enriquez, a self-described “dark child,” mixes horror with social and political themes, including Argentina’s history of dictatorship in the 1970s and ‘80s. You can listen to an interview with Enriquez about her new book on NPR. (Random House, $24)

June also means we’re halfway through 2017, which means we’re halfway through Read Broader. For the uninitiated among you, Read Broader is Curious Iguana’s year-long self-directed reading adventure. We’ve created a list of recommended reading divided into seven categories to help you get beyond your comfort zones, literarily speaking.

One of Read Broader’s categories is “Collections Near and Far,” comprised of poetry, essays, and the following short story collections. You can find these at our store, too!

  • Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
  • Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins
  • One World Two: A Second Anthology of Short Stories, edited & compiled by Ovo Adagha & Chris Brazier
  • Mad Country by Samrat Upadhyav

Up for the challenge? It’s never too late to register for Read Broader. Email us (info@curiousiguana.com) or give us a call (301-695-2500) to sign up.