34. "A Family," by Jamel Brinkley (published in Gulf Coast)

Recently released from prison for killing a pedestrian while drunk driving, Curtis stalks and then approaches Lena, the significant other of his friend Marvin, who died in a fire while Curtis was locked up. Gritty and steamy (not in an overtly NSFW way), I found the language beautiful even without any clear witticisms or trickiness. I was also struck by how well the author portrayed Curtis as emotionally under-developed, to the point that although the narrator makes it a point that Lena and Curtis are the same age (35), I had trouble seeing Curtis as anything other than a 16-year old. I suspect this is largely the point, of course. And for some reason, I kept expecting this story to be in first person, when in fact it is in third. I don't know why that matters, but it seems to.

1. "Acceptance Speech," by David Naimon (published in Boulevard)
2. "Let the Devil Sing," by Allegra Hyde (published in Threepenny Review).
3. "A suburban weekend," by Lisa Taddeo (published in Granta)
4. "Do I look sick to you? (Notes on how to make love to a cancer patient)" by C. J. Hribal (published in Bellevue Literary Review)
5. "Brace yourself," by Leslie Jill Patterson (published in Prime Number)
6. "American Dream," by Nonyelum Ekwempu (published in Red Rock Review and reprinted in Anthem)
7. "Involution," by Stacy Hardy (published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa)
8. "Fanta Blackcurrant," by Makena Onjerika (published in Wasafiri)
9. "Wednesday's Story," by Wole Talabi (Published in Lightspeed Magazine)
10. "Calling the clouds home," by Heran T. Abate (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
11. "No Ordinary Soiree," by Paula Akugizibwe (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
12. "Where rivers go to die," by Dilman Dila (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
13. "Redemption song," by Arinze Ifeakandu (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
14. "The Weaving of Death," by Lucky Grace Isingizwe (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
15. "Spaceman," by Bongani Kona (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
16. "Departure," by Nsah Mala (published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
17. "By the Waters of Babylon," by Stephen Vincent Benet (Published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1937)
18. "America," by Caroline Numuhire (Published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
19. "All Things Bright and Beautiful," by Troy Onyango (Published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
20. "Grief is the gift that breaks the spirit open," by Elogosha Osunde (Published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
21. "Ngozi," by Bongoni Sibanda (Published in Redemption Song and Other Stories)
22. "Mr Salary," by Sally Rooney (Published in Granta)
23. "Divine providence," by Quim Monzo (published in A Public Space)
24. "Eight bites," by Carmen Maria Machado (published in Gulf Coast)
25. "The Deaths of Henry King: Selected demises," by Jesse Ball and Brian Evenson, illustrated by Lilli Carre (published in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern)
26. "The David Party," by David Leavitt (published in Washington Square Review)
27. "The Reenactors," by Katherine Augusta Mayfield (published in Columbia University School of the Arts Thesis Anthology)
28. "Cat Person," by Kristen Roupenian (published in The New Yorker)
29. "A whale, a tree, a vine," by Sarah Norek (Published in West Branch)
30. "Lizard-baby," by Benjamin Schaefer (published in Guernica)
31. "The Universe Would Be So Cruel," by Souvankham Thammavongsa (published in Noon)
32. "A Love Story," Samantha Hunt (published in The New Yorker)
33. "Cougar," by Maria Anderson (published in The Iowa Review)