Author: Z.Z. Packer
Title: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Narrator: Shirley Jordan
Publication Info: Highbridge, 2013
This is an excellent collection of contemporary short fiction. Packer is great at quickly establishing characters, and while the stories tend to be more slice-of-life than a traditional beginning-middle-end format, they’re all the better for capturing the nuance of character developments. Stories range from a conflict among troops of Brownies – one black, one white – to a teenage girl who runs away to Atlanta and is taken in by a pimp, to a boy forced by his father to try to sell birds at the Million Man March. All the stories are from an outsider’s perspective and thus feel very relatable. I’ll be looking out for future work from Z.Z. Packer.
Recommended books: Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, Spunk: The Selected Stories of Zora Neale Hurston by Zora Neale Hurston, and Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell