Neighbors and Other Stories (Faber Editions)

'Breathtaking' - Tayari Jones; 'Brilliant' - Damon Galgut

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Pub Date Feb 13 2024 | Archive Date Feb 13 2024

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'This breathtaking collection is a marvel.' Tayari Jones
'Astute, brilliantly observed, timeless:' Jackie Kay
'Her precocious and brilliant talent hasn't aged at all.' Damon Galgut
'Exquisite ... These stories are all gems.' Mendez
'You hold your breath, completely at her mercy.' Lucy Caldwell

And she was becoming frightened too, looking at all those white faces pressed against the windowpanes.

One Black family comes under attack as their little boy prepares to start at an all-white school.
Friends plan a protest sit-in at the Rose Crest Tea Room, only to be arrested.
The first Black student - always the 'Experiment' - retreats into her closet at a newly integrated college.
And when a social worker enters a secluded woodland cabin, she meets the fate of all visitors . . .

Tragically killed aged twenty-two in 1966, Diane Oliver's masterly stories resonate today with renewed urgency. Steeped in the nightmarish horror of life for the Black community in the Jim Crow-era American South, these chilling tales explore toxic racism and the human toll of activism for 'the cause' with heartbreaking empathy and wisdom. Depicting African American families whole and broken, daily injustices and life-threatening political struggle, Neighbors restores a lost star to the twentieth-century literary canon.


'This breathtaking collection is a marvel.' Tayari Jones
'Astute, brilliantly observed, timeless:' Jackie Kay
'Her precocious and brilliant talent hasn't aged at all.' ...

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EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780571386086
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

This collection of Diane Oliver's short stories make it abundantly clear what a talent she was. How very brutal for that to be cut down as a result of her death in a tragic accident at the age of 22.

It seems that within a short time of her death, and then for some time afterwards, Oliver's stories were almost entirely lost from public attention. So, it is wonderful to see her finally getting her due in this long overdue collection published by Faber and Faber.

Oliver's work showcases the realities of black life - from the utter brutality of the Jim Crow laws to the more subtle deprivations of being a black caregiver to pampered white children whilst having to worry about how your own are coping without you at home...

One thing that shines through the stories is the cost extracted by the system of segregation on all concerned. And not only the cost of living under such unjust laws, but also the price of changing them. A price paid most dearly by those in the frontline of de-segregating America's schools, colleges and society.

This is an important and timely collection with an excellent introduction from Tayari Jones. Read this book - you will be glad you did.

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As I researched books by BIPOC Authors due to be released in 2024, a book that kept showing up on most of the lists I came across was Neighbors and other Stories by an author I had never heard of called Diane Oliver, who died aged 22 in a motorcycle accident just a month away from graduating from the Iowa Writers Workshop.

I love short stories so I added her book to my must read of 2024, so imagine my utter delight and surprise when it also became my first approved ARC!!!! And my goodness what a treat this book was!!!

Neighbors and other stories is an anthology of short stories delving into the complexities of Jim Crow Era 1950/60s America. Her writing has a chilling / terrifying effect to it, creating an intense atmosphere of tension and dread, which she skilfully uses to convey the daily anxiety and fear experienced by Black Americans living in the south in America. Her writing had me captivated from start to finish. In the tradition of the finest short-story writers, shes able to convey so much in so few / little words.

Take the nightmarish journey of “The Closet on the Top Floor,” where Winifred, the first Black student in her newly integrated college, mysteriously starts to fade away. Or venture into “Mint Juleps not Served Here,” where a family living deep in the woods takes drastic measures to protect their son. There’s also “Spiders Cry without Tears,” confronting interracial and extramarital love, and the high-tension titular story following an anxious older sister on the eve of her brother’s school desegregation.

Her stories still sadly reverberate today.
She's a wonderful talent who deserves to be celebrated and I hope through this book lots of readers discover her work. Wow what a talent.

Highly Recommend

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