Short, Vigorous Roots: A Contemporary Flash Fiction Collection of Migrant Voices

Flash fiction is quickly becoming one of my favorite formats! The ability of these authors to make a lasting impact on the reader in such a ridiculously small number of words will never stop surprising me. Edited by Mark Budman and Susan O’Neill, Short, Vigorous Roots is a powerful collection of contemporary flash fiction written by first- and second-generation immigrant writers.

Some of these stories are realistic and make you forget you’re reading fiction, not memoir, like “Crossing the Line” by James Corpora. Others have touches of magical realism, stretching your imagination and your heart, like “Throwing Down Roots” by Amit Majmudar. The authors explore a multitude of feelings and experiences that come with being a migrant, including traditions, language, and a sense of “home.” And somehow, this slim book (around 160 pages) ended up with an impressively huge variety of perspectives.

This beautiful moment of hospitality in “Chasing Gods” by Edvin Subašić especially pulled at me:

“The day our German sponsors greet us, we are welcomed in their home with warm friendly smiles, fresh homemade Apfelkuchen and hot coffee on the table. I stand still mid-step and picture the moment again, eight years later, in a story I’m writing. The unbearable love toward fellow humans—its awkwardness, its undeniable existence—and the years of war propel me into future.”

“Hilsa in Hog Plum Sauce” by Sayantika Mandal is the last story in the collection, and it was the perfect closer. It honed in on the essence of what gets passed down from generation to generation and why those things—no matter how simple—are so important to us.

Short, Vigorous Roots releases on March 1, 2022 from Ooligan Press, a student-run trade press that prioritizes literary equity and inclusion. This beautiful collection of flash fiction is one you do not want to miss!

Other Flash Fiction I’ve Enjoyed:

The Predatory Animal Ball by Jennifer Fliss

Tender Cuts by Jayne Martin

Ghosts of You by Cathy Ulrich


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