Over forty short stories spanning the career of England’s most acclaimed postwar writer—including the iconic “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner.”
This comprehensive collection of short fiction from bestselling British author Alan Sillitoe mixes aggression with humor, and common working-class men with extraordinary twists of fate. It compiles works selected from the master storyteller’s bestselling books, including The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner; The Ragman’s Daughter; Guzman, Go Home; Men, Women and Children; and The Second Chance. Several previously unpublished works are also included.
In the title story from The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner—which was adapted for film in 1962—a seventeen-year-old inmate in a juvenile detention center must make a difficult life choice. Should he strive to win the national long-distance running competition as everyone is counting on him to do, or should he refuse to vindicate the very system and society that has locked him up?
The titular piece from The Ragman’s Daughter is a lively and poignant narrative about an eighteen-year-old thief named Tony and his new girlfriend, Doris, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a well-to-do scrap dealer. The couple embarks on a wild robbery spree, but after a raid on a shoe shop goes absurdly wrong, Tony ends up behind bars and Doris remains free—but suffers a dark destiny.
A standout tale from Guzman, Go Home, “Revenge” details the dangerously tumultuous marriage between factory foreman Richard and his ornery wife, Caroline. “Mimic,” from the previously collected Men, Women and Children, takes place in the mind of a nameless hero who is locked away in an asylum—a man who uses the art of mimicry to escape reality and avoid being himself. And in “No Name in the Street,” from The Second Chance, an ex-miner who ekes out a living collecting social security and hunting for golf balls, moves in with a woman who has indoor plumbing—but his dog refuses to go along with the plan.
This essential collection reveals the power and timelessness of Sillitoe’s short fiction. Called “a master of the short story” by the Times, the author portrays the complex ethos and pathos of working-class life.