To celebrate ten years of the beloved anthology, we picked ten additional “nonrequired” reading selections that stood out to us in 2011 and beyond, all available for you to read online. While we didn’t envy Eggers and his team the task of choosing their twenty best, we embraced their idiosyncratic spirit by choosing the pieces that excited us most. This is in no way a comprehensive list, so be sure to share your favorite pieces that didn’t appear on any college syllabi or required reading lists in our comments section, and then check out The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 when it hits bookstores this Tuesday.
“The Sound of All Girls Screaming” by Shani Boianjiu (Vice)
Shani Boianjiu’s novel The People of Forever Are Not Afraid has been one of the most explosive debuts in recent memory, but we first fell in love with the young Israeli talent after her first short story ran in Vice (now included as a chapter in the novel). “The army wanted our blood,” Boianjiu writes. “Two liters, but you got strawberry Kool-Aid and white bread while the needle was inside you.” An unforgettable story set in an IDF boot camp, “The Sound of All Girls Screaming” introduced us to a new and distinctive literary voice.
“Apocalypse” by Junot Díaz (Boston Review)
Chances are you’ve already finished Junot Díaz’s second collection of stories This Is How You Lose Her and are eagerly awaiting his next installment. While you take a break from Yunior, we recommend Díaz’s ambitious essay on recent worldwide catastrophes and what they tell us about the world. At the forefront of his essay are Haiti, New Orleans, and Japan, whose catastrophes he describes as “social disasters.” We found his revelatory essay to be as powerful as anything he’s written.
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