The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

“The people seemed hurled on in a frantic action that made every hour forty-five minutes long, every day nine hours, every year fourteen days.”

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery, one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker. “Power and haunting,” and “nights of unrest” were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson’s lifetime, unites “The Lottery:” with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demonstrate Jackson’s remarkable range–from the hilarious to the truly horrible–and power as a storyteller. (Goodreads)

I love short stories collections.

I think it takes special skills to write great short stories, and Shirley Jackson is simply brilliant in this book. I love the build up of tension, the quiet sadness and the terror of human loneliness. The stories are chilling and made more terrifying because of their familiarity, and how it reminds us how close we all are into spiraling to madness through our daily mundane lives.

The Lottery is one of the most popular short stories of the much acclaimed author Shirley Jackson and its powerful simplicity shines bright in this collection. Published as early as 1949, the stories are still relevant today and each will remain a classic for ages.

“I suppose it starts to happen first in the suburbs.”

“What starts to happen?”

“People starting to come apart.”

Below are my favorites from the twenty-four skillfully written stories:

THE WITCH because of its unpredictability and spine-chilling nature. I think I was frightened by this one more than The Lottery.

THE RENEGADE shows Shirley Jackson’s expertise in turning the mundane to horror in an instant.

CHARLES puts the disturb in disturbia.

FLOWER GARDEN is one of the longest stories in the collection. It gently explores the hypocrisy and racial prejudice of the white upper class.

SEVEN TYPES OF AMBIGUITY because book shopping is always a good idea. Just be prepared for potential heartbreak caused by human greed and spite.

OF COURSE because of creepy neighbors and man’s senseless desire to always appear polite and agreeable all the time.

PILLAR OF SALT because of the delicious descent to middle-class madness.

THE TOOTH because the title itself brings to mind an image of terror. Be warned, however, that this goes way beyond the regular dentist appointment and edges close to the Twilight Zone.

THE LOTTERY because I never ever want to join any kind of lottery after reading this. Never again.

It’s always difficult to rate short stories collections. There is always one or two titles that the reader would love less than the rest, but I’m giving this one an almost perfect score because I felt that though each story was unique, all of them also successfully carried the underlying theme of disturbia all throughout the book. I loved the curation that really pushed the reader effortlessly towards the highly-anticipated titular piece in The Lottery. This is definitely among my top reads for the year. πŸ’–

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

She is best known for her dystopian short story, “The Lottery” (1948), which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown America. In her critical biography of Shirley Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that when Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery” was published in the June 28, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it received a response that “no New Yorker story had ever received.” Hundreds of letters poured in that were characterized by, as Jackson put it, “bewilderment, speculation and old-fashioned abuse.”

Jackson’s husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, wrote in his preface to a posthumous anthology of her work that “she consistently refused to be interviewed, to explain or promote her work in any fashion, or to take public stands and be the pundit of the Sunday supplements. She believed that her books would speak for her clearly enough over the years.” Hyman insisted the darker aspects of Jackson’s works were not, as some critics claimed, the product of “personal, even neurotic, fantasies”, but that Jackson intended, as “a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the Bomb”, to mirror humanity’s Cold War-era fears. Jackson may even have taken pleasure in the subversive impact of her work, as revealed by Hyman’s statement that she “was always proud that the Union of South Africa banned The Lottery’, and she felt that they at least understood the story”.

In 1965, Jackson died of heart failure in her sleep, at her home in North Bennington Vermont, at the age of 48.

Book Details

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

Paperback, 302 pages
Published March 16th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1949)
ISBN 0374529531 (ISBN13: 9780374529536)
Edition language English
Genres: Short Stories | Fiction | Classics | Horror

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12 thoughts on “The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

    1. I also feel like I might have read The Lottery in one of the required readings at school. πŸ˜† I think this is a good starting point in reading short fiction, too.


  1. I’m not a great reader of short story collections, because I try to read them as I would a normal book, which I think limits the effectiveness of short fiction. I’ve heard a lot about Shirley Jackson since they latest adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, so I will have to check this out – it sounds like it should be a fantastic read even if it’s not a format I am generally good with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree it does require a different mindset. I pick up short stories depending on my mood, but usually when I have a book hangover from a really heavy or long novel. Reading shorts can be a delightful break 😊


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