Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson

Fortune Smiles is a National Book Award winning collection of short stories by Adam Johnson.  The quality of these stories suggest Johnson deserves the prize.  He has a firm command of a very pliable yet believable short story “voice,” and has a considerable range within the voice.  The stories are compelling and interesting.

A personal favorite for me, as I have often done this myself, is that he writes stories in English while depicting characters speaking other languages.  So "Fortune Smiles", the last story, features Korean characters.  Johnson knows enough about Korea to make the difference between the northern and southern Korean accent integral to the tale.  He does this without submersing us in a story which feels overly exotic or ethnic.  He is just telling a compelling story about people!  There is a sense that we are them and they are us.

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