Tania Hershman

Tania Hershman's first short story collection, The White Road and Other Stories, published by Salt Modern Fiction, was recently commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. Her short and very short stories have been published in SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, Riptide, New Scientist, Dogzplot, PANK Magazine, the Vestal Review, Cafe Irreal and others, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and won various awards, including the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's 2008 Story Contest (Europe). Tania founded and edits The Short Review, an online review of short story collections. She blogs at TaniaWrites.

what are you reading now

In the past 24 hours (I switch the computer and TV off over the Jewish Sabbath) I read two books straight through: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham, which I didn't enjoy, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which is extraordinary in parts, and utterly compelling, but I did find myself skimming. I am glad I read it. I am half-way through Ali Smith's The First Person and Other Stories, for review for The Short Review, but I am such an Ali Smith fan, and have been taught by her before, that I am wondering if I should pass it on to someone else to review - so they can appreciate the wonders of her short fiction!

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Moby Dick. A few friends and I were just talking about this the other day, how none of us have read it but how it was the favourite of a friend of ours whose memorial evening we attended. In her memory, I will read it.

last book to bring you to tears

Day, by A.L. Kennedy. It's about World War One and I read it during a visit to Flanders, which made the whole experience much more intense. I took it with me to Ypres, which was bombed during the war, sat in a café as a funfair was being set up in the main square, read the part where the main character was stationed with his regiment just up the road from Ypres and started sobbing. In the café. Apart from that, it's an astonishing book, I read late into the night because I didn't want to stop. It's like a novel-length short story in that no word is superfluous. My highest praise!

book you borrowed and never returned

OK, there I was thinking, I never do that, borrow a book and not return it. I head to the shelves, and to my shame there they are: Space and The Source, both by James Michener, borrowed ten years ago from a friend; they were her late grandfather's. Now I am too embarrassed to mention it to her. The covers are falling off. And I haven't read them. Oh dear.

if you could write yourself into any book or story

Blimey, what a question. I don't think I have wanted to be in a book since childhood when the stories seemed like a wonderful escape. I always wanted to be Nancy Drew, would have loved to write myself in there. So much of what I read these days is excellent but pretty distressing fiction dealing with weighty themes, I am not taken with "happy" stories, so I don't think I'd want to be in any of those books!

favorite book from childhood

So many books, it's impossible to choose. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a huge early favourite, and later on Emil and the Detectives and Pippi Longstocking. Kids with spunk (can you still say that these days?)

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

My own book! Sad and pathetic, eh? Also, my partner bought me a wonderful, hardback and large copy of Einstein's Theory of Relativity (I am a huge Einstein fan) and I have slipped that onto the coffee table every now and then. Not the sort of thing someone would pick up and flip through - it's damn heavy!

best american short stories, pen/o. henry prizes, or the pushcart prize anthology

Not read any of 'em. Is it because I'm a Brit?

collected stories of

Lorrie Moore. It just came out, I have a review copy. Heaven.

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Conjunctions. Surreal, odd, quirky, wonderful writing.

best thing you’ve read online recently

I regularly do a "source of lit" post on my blog to mention some of the great stuff I've been reading. "The Accident" by Allan Reeder, in Memorious, is a recent favourite. Too many to mention.

most anticipated upcoming release

New A.L. Kennedy short story collection, What Becomes, out in August.

recommended reading list:

Inspired by Science

- Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

The first science-inspired fiction I ever read, beautiful short short stories imagining what Einstein might have been dreaming about as he developed his innovative theory about time.

- The Wave Theory of Angels by Alison McLeod

Fabulous example of science-inspired fiction, weaving the past and the present.

- Tangled Roots by Sue Guiney

A physicist, his mother, life, love and science.

- One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead by Clare Dudman

Fictional glimpse inside the mind of scientist and explorer Alfred Wegener.

- Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett

Collection of wonderful, science-infused stories.

- Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory

An imaginative and entertaining anthology. It includes one of my flashes.

- The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby

Anthropologist Narby's personal account of his encounters with Amazonian shamanism and how this leads him to a new view of biology and DNA.

- Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh

An accessible and intriguing tour through mathematical history.

- A Quark for Mister Mark: 101 Poems About Science

What more do I need to say?

- Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman

This "illustrated memoir" is a creative inspiration, and the title is tenuously science-linked!


  1. Usually find A L Kennedy stories suicidally black (she's a fellow Dundonian from my past, so I understand why). 'Day' is extraordinary. She said all her research was from books and documents, no personal interviews because she didn't feel it right to use stories of personal tragedy for commercial gain.

  2. Susan, yes they are very black stories! Interesting about Day, she didn't need personal stories, she is such a wonderful storyteller. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.