This paper takes as its starting point not those aspects of “form” associated with “formalist” criticism—structure, prose style, figurative language, or other aesthetic elements—but rather the more mundane consideration of length and the related matter of genre. This is a deliberately literal (rather than literary) interpretation of “form”: what does a book look and feel like when held in the reader’s hand? What reader expectations are aroused? From the answers to these questions can be discerned certain trends in recent (post-apartheid/transitional) fiction—or, more specifically, in writing and publishing practices.

In 2004, Michael Chapman identified the short story as the literary form most suited to prevailing conditions in South Africa. At the time, however, short fiction remained for the most part confined to small magazines and journals; multi-author anthologies appeared occasionally, but single-author collections were rare indeed. 2010, however, seemed to mark a resurgence of sorts: Ivan Vladislavic’s short stories (first collected in 1989 and 1996) were republished under the title Flashback Hotel, while Henrietta Rose-Innes’s Homing appeared along with Arja Salafranca’s The Thin Line and David Medalie’sThe Mistress’s Dog: Stories 1996-2010. This conjunction suggests not so much an indication of renewed “writerly” interest in short fiction but regained publisher confidence in the commercial viability of the form. Michael Titlestad, in an Afterword to Medalie’s book, suggests that the (“modernist”) short story “might be particularly suited to our present” insofar as it leaves both “characters and readers on the brink of a recognition that remains ... somewhat inchoate, just out of reach ... this hesitation, this modest authorial purview, seems entirely apt.”


long short fiction, mezzanine writing, short fiction sensibility

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
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Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
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University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
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Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
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Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
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University of Cape Town (South Africa)
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University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
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Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
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University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)