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14 Fantastic Stories From The New Yorker Archive You Should Read This Summer

The New Yorker has made all of its archives going back to 2007 available online until the end of this summer. Here are the best New Yorker fiction pieces from the past seven years that you can read right now, for free.

Isaac Fitzgerald

BuzzFeed Staff

best new yorker fiction

1. "Midnight in Dostoevsky" by Don Delillo

best new yorker fiction

National Book Award-winning novelist Don DeLillo tells a compelling and mysterious story about storytelling itself and the nature of truth in this story about two college friends who walk around campus, obsessively observing and discussing the people in their lives.

Read it here .

2. "Black Box" by Jennifer Egan

best new yorker fiction

Jennifer Egan, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit From the Goon Squad , makes a strong case for Twitter fiction with an eerie and compelling story of a woman spy, told in 140-character bursts.

3. "The Cheater's Guide to Love" by Junot Díaz

best new yorker fiction

Junot Diaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao , describes a breakup and its difficult aftermath from the perspective of a cheater trying to change his ways.

4. "The Christmas Miracle" by Rebecca Curtis

best new yorker fiction

Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money, brings us on a pitch-dark and hilarious Christmas vacation with the family, during which cats die, the exact wrong things are said, and terrible secrets are dredged up.

5. "The Dungeon Master" by Sam Lipsyte

best new yorker fiction

Sam Lipsyte, Guggenheim fellow and author of Homeland , follows a group of teen outcasts as they become obsessed with the game of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the mysterious Dungeon Master, an older teen who frightens and fascinates them.

6. "Embassy of Cambodia" by Zadie Smith

best new yorker fiction

Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth , follows Fatou, a woman from the Ivory Coast who works as a maid for a wealthy Pakistani family in London, as she navigates life in a foreign land and examines her place in society.

7. "Escape From Spiderhead" by George Saunders

best new yorker fiction

George Saunders, author of Tenth of December and Pastoralia , takes a foray into mind-bending science fiction with a story full of exotic drugs and unethical experiments, as told by a human lab rat who is faced with impossible moral dilemmas.

8. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" by Nathan Englander

best new yorker fiction

Nathan Englander, author of the PEN/Malamud Award-winning story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges , takes inspiration from Raymond Carver in telling the story of two married couples as they share a bottle of vodka, discuss their lives and their Jewish faith, and play a fraught childhood game.

9. "Year's End" by Jhumpa Lahiri

best new yorker fiction

Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning story collection The Interpreter of Maladies , follows Kaushik, a college sophomore who has to come to terms with his father's remarriage after his mother's death.

10. "The Largesse of the Sea Maiden" by Denis Johnson

best new yorker fiction

In a story that is personal yet epic, National Book Award-winner Denis Johnson describes fascinating moments from the life of Whit, a middle-aged man facing mortality. In Johnson's telling, every life is strange; every life is important.

11. "Amundsen" by Alice Munro

best new yorker fiction

Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro leads us through the recollections of a young teacher who is courted by a doctor until their romance falls apart, in a story about the complexities and mysteries of love and memory.

12. "In the South" by Salman Rushdie

best new yorker fiction

Salman Rushdie, author of the Man Booker Prize winner Midnight's Children , describes the odd couple friendship between Junior and Senior, two neighbors who don't seem to have anything in common except being 80-something years old.

13. "Good People" by David Foster Wallace

best new yorker fiction

David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest , gets inside the head of a young Christian man, who sits with his pregnant girlfriend in the park as they agonize over the decision to get an abortion.

14. "Roy Spivey" by Miranda July

best new yorker fiction

Miranda July, author and director of Me and You and Everyone We Know , recounts how an ordinary woman meets a movie star during an airplane flight, a deceptively light and funny story that is also about the regret and missed opportunities latent in any life, no matter how good.

This is, of course, just a list of 14 short stories. There is an incredible amount of fascinating fiction to be explored at The New Yorker's new website .

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Here are the 15 best short stories you can read in the New Yorker

John Updike

Since the New Yorker 's inception, it's published work from some of the last century's most important writers, including John Updike (pictured above), Vladimir Nabokov , J.D. Salinger , and Alice Munro . Many of the stories are behind a paywall, but check them out if you have a subscription. Here are EW's picks for the  New Yorker 's best stories:

"The Bear Came Over the Mountain" by Alice Munro

"Town of Cats" by Haruki Murakami

"Symbols and Signs" by Vladimir Nabokov  

"Bullet Park" by John Cheever

"Debarking" by Lorrie Moore  

"Lifeguard" by John Updike

"Kat" by Margaret Atwood

"A Perfect Day for a Bananafish" by J.D. Salinger

"The Largesse of the Sea Maiden" by Denis Johnson  

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

"Defender of the Faith" by Philip Roth

"A Temporary Matter" by Jhumpa Lahiri

"So Long, See You Tomorrow" by William Maxwell

"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" by Muriel Spark

"The Embassy of Cambodia" by Zadie Smith  

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First Lines to Remember in This Year’s New Yorker Fiction

By Deborah Treisman

Illustration of  illuminated manuscript drop cap.

The first line of a story is what a writer uses to pull the reader in. It is also often the hardest one to write. There are first lines that create a mood: “Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a forest” is how Jennifer Egan begins “ What the Forest Remembers .” There are first lines that set a scene: “In June, Grant drove his project Mazda with the FFA sticker south, out of Montana’s spring rain squalls to Oklahoma, drinking Red Bull and Jolt Cola, grinding his teeth, with his saddle in the back seat” is the evocative opening salvo of Thomas McGuane’s “ Take Half, Leave Half .” There are first lines that aim to introduce a character, and those that aim to introduce a problem: “She did not want to visit the old lady,” Alexander MacLeod writes at the beginning of his story “ Once Removed .” There are first lines that start a story in the middle. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s “ Nondisclosure Agreement ” opens this way: “There must have been some sort of defective wiring in the early-warning system of my brain, because by the time the owner put his hand on my thigh I was already in way too deep.” There are first lines from which you feel you can predict the kind of story you’re embarking on, and first lines that give little away: “ ‘Yes,’ she said” is the first sentence of Shirley Jackson’s “ Call Me Ishmael .” And there are first lines that tell an entire story by themselves. Consider the opening sentence of Ben Lerner’s “ Café Loup ”:

When I became a father, I began to worry not only that I would die and not be able to care for my daughter but that I would die in an embarrassing way, that my death would be an abiding embarrassment for Astra—that in some future world, assuming there is a future, she will be on a date with someone, hard as that is for me to imagine, and her date will ask, ‘What does your father do?,’ and she will say, ‘He died when I was little,’ and her date will respond, ‘I’m sorry,’ hesitate, and then ask, in a bid for intimacy, how I died, and Astra will feel ashamed, will look down into her blue wine, there will be blue wine in the future, and say, ‘He had an aneurysm on the toilet,’ which is one of the ways I often fear I might die.

As a way of celebrating the many, varied New Yorker stories of 2022, we offer up this quiz. Test your recall of the year’s fiction, or your instinct for writers’ methods, by matching each first line to its author’s name. Then click each first line to see the answer.

1. I didn’t go to New York, because I didn’t want to cut my hair .

2. He woke to an angry house and darkness in the windows .

3. This is not a rewrite of that story in which plants and animals and people keep winding up dead over the course of a school year, but it starts the same, and it feels odd not to acknowledge, so I will .

4. She was often tempted to be done .

5. One morning Anders, a white man, woke up to find he had turned a deep and undeniable brown .

6. When the biographer of Emanuel Teller came to see me, he left behind his hat .

7. The characters ride into the story aboard a 1976 Winnebago Minnie Winnie, one driven breakneck across broiling asphalt, overspilling its lane on both sides .

8. The paradox of personal religion: God has abandoned me, so I’ll pray .

9. She was shampooing her hair with cherries .

10. On or around May 5th of 2020, he just stopped .

New Yorker Favorites

In the weeks before John Wayne Gacy’s scheduled execution, he was far from reconciled to his fate .

What HBO’s “Chernobyl” got right, and what it got terribly wrong .

Why does the Bible end that way ?

A new era of strength competitions is testing the limits of the human body .

How an unemployed blogger confirmed that Syria had used chemical weapons.

An essay by Toni Morrison: “ The Work You Do, the Person You Are .”

Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the best stories from The New Yorker .

best new yorker fiction

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Illustration of shattered glass from a car crash reflecting words and the cloudy sky.

By Ted Geltner

4 panels of a child hanging from a tree.

By Joshua Rothman

A person writing their thoughts on paper.

By Leslie Jamison

13 'New Yorker' Fiction Stories to Read While They're Still Free

best new yorker fiction

The New Yorker has long been known for publishing fantastic fiction. Unfortunately, you had to pay to read most of it. Luckily, as a gift to us, the New Yorker has opened up their archives for free. 

As part of a refocus on their website, the New Yorker announced at the end of July that readers had until the end of the summer to browse the site for free. Come fall, a new payment system will only grant free access to a limited number of pieces before needing to subscribe.

So what is the fiction that you need to prioritize reading in the time we have left? We've mapped it all out for you.

1. 'Passion' by Alice Munro (2004)

best new yorker fiction

At first glance, it seems this is a simple love story. However, things get quickly complicated, as Grace finds herself falling more in love with Maury's family than Maury himself. Both comical and surprising, the story also boasts an ending that's impossible to foresee. 

Read it for free here . 

2. 'Jon' by George Saunders (2003)

best new yorker fiction

It can be difficult to tell whether this is a love story for another person or for one's possessions. The story focuses on Jon and Carol, teenagers who were raised in a building that assesses consumer products and they have never in their lives gone outside. When Carol gets pregnant, she wants to leave the building, but Jon isn't convinced. It's all slightly creepy, but it's very beautifully written. 

3. 'Permission to Enter' by Zadie Smith (2012)

best new yorker fiction

An extract from her novel NW , this excerpt stands alone just as well as it does within the book. The story uses a series of numbered vignettes to track best friends Keisha and Leah from the ages of 4 to 21. As the girls progress through school and leave their neighborhood behind, the story is full of subtle, meaningful reflections on class and status. 

4. 'The Pura Principle' by Junot Díaz (2010)

best new yorker fiction

In this 2010 story, Díaz returns to brothers Yunior and Rafa, characters from his first celebrated book  Drown . A Díaz-ian story if there ever was one, "The Pura Principle" watches older brother Rafa face leukemia while his new girlfriend Pura successfully complicates life. A fully fascinating read.

5. 'Good People' by David Foster Wallace (2007)

best new yorker fiction

This short story channels the inner thoughts of a couple sitting on a park bench. Both very religious, a pregnancy has forced them to re-evaluate their morals in considering an abortion. Wallace's simple writing style makes for a poignant reflection on love and faith. 

6. 'The Surrogate' by Tessa Hadley (2003)

best new yorker fiction

This story tackles the typically trite theme of a student falling in love with her professor, yet manages to do so in a surprising and charming way. The narrator has a straightforward way of reflecting on her past that makes you want to start reading it again as soon as you finish. 

7. 'Kattekoppen' by Will Mackin (2013)

best new yorker fiction

This story is about a SEAL team in Afghanistan in the process of trying to recruit an artillery liaison. The surreal "Kattekoppen" was written by a veteran and finds a way to be humorous despite the scary reality it reflects. 

8. 'Christmas Is a Sad Season for the Poor' by John Cheever (1949)

best new yorker fiction

Cheever wrote over 100 stories for the New Yorker over the course of his career, and this one dates back to 1949. Sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs" because of his chronicles of tortured American suburbia, even just the title of this story perfectly reflects the theme of Cheever's life work. 

9. 'Once In a Lifetime' by Jhumpa Lahiri (2006)

best new yorker fiction

The narrator, Hema, speaks directly in third person to Kaushik, but leaves the reader in mystery as to why she is telling memories about being with Kaushik to Kaushik himself. Lahiri's skillful storytelling creates a captivating personal story while reflecting on themes of immigrants in America more generally. 

10. 'Weight Watchers' by Thomas McGuane (2013)

best new yorker fiction

This story opens with a middle-aged man picking up his father, who was kicked out by his mother for being "insufficiently committed to his weight-loss journey." This dry yet humorous tone continues throughout the piece, despite reflections on serious and relatable issues: a parents' rocky marriage, and a son who is dragged in. The narrator denies the damage he has experienced while illustrating it to the reader, and there is comedy in this common tragedy.  

11. 'The Women' by William Trevor (2013)

best new yorker fiction

Trevor wrote this story at the age of 84, and it reflects on the kind of quiet sadness that comes without a cause in age. The narrator, Mr. Normanton, is seemingly totally composed, but his daughter Celia can see his melancholy. In small subtle hints, two older women are woven into the story, united by a secret pain that Celia tries to uncover. 

12. 'Something That Needs Nothing' by Miranda July (2006)

best new yorker fiction

"In an ideal world, we would have been orphans." This surprising first line captures the atmosphere of the entire story, which is both relatable yet surprising. Creative language and metaphors — "we were kites flying in opposite directions attached to strings held by one hand" — make the seemingly simple story enchantingly beautiful. 

13. 'Ask Me If I Care' by Jennifer Egan (2010)

best new yorker fiction

Rhea is a high school senior riddled with freckles who embraces an alternative lifestyle. Egan manages to transport us all back to our youth, remembering the moments that seemed incredibly unique and important at the time but have since faded with experience. As Rhea moves through the story, she faces humiliation that rushes her into adulthood. 

best new yorker fiction


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