What’s Next?: Short Fiction in Time of Change
Transition and change are 21st-century lived experiences. We want to know “what’s next” in our relationships, environment, societies, politics, and everything else that touches our lives. What’s Next? is an anthology of short fiction that creatively explores these questions.
Editor Sharyn Skeeter personally reached out to a diverse group of contemporary fiction writers and curated the book to reflect our changing times. Sharyn Skeeter kept the topics open and the book reflects a refreshing diversity in modern fiction.
Authors Featured in What’s Next?
Claire Boyles, Joseph Bruchac, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Toiya Kristen Finley, Tom Gammarino, Amina Gautier, Anthony Lee Head, Meng Jin, Charles Johnson, Pauline Kaldas, Vijay Lakshmi, Clarence Major, Donna Miscolta, Pamela Painter, Jane Pek, Brenda Peynado, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Shannon Sanders, George Saunders, Joanna Scott, Anna Sequoia, Asako Serizawa, Sharyn Skeeter, Tiphanie Yanique, and Ye Chun.
The emotional, provocative stories collected in What's Next? concern the apprehension that accompanies change.
Dancing with Langston
Carrie, a business manager who always wanted to be a dancer, has two commitments today. She made a promise to her late father to move Cousin Ella, a former Paris café dancer, from her condemned Harlem apartment to a safe place. She’s also committed to catch a flight to Seattle with her husband for his new job. But Cousin Ella resists leaving the apartment where she’s had salons with Langston Hughes. She also has a mysterious gift that she wants Carrie to earn. If she does, a revelation about Carrie’s father and his cousin Langston Hughes will change her life.
“Dancing with Langston is one of the most beautiful, brilliant debut novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in years. With a poet’s skill, and decades of historically important experience in publishing, Sharyn Skeeter has crafted a story that generously delivers black American history and culture, humor, a cast of vibrant, memorable characters, and a vivid portrait of one of the world’s most celebrated literary artists, Langston Hughes, who just happens to be her distant relative. But of even greater importance for this reader, her novel—very original, very fresh, very dramatic—is a deeply moving story about the love of a daughter for a complex father she comes to fully know only after he is gone. It is about the importance of family—the ones we are born into and the ones we create and love during our journey through life. And about something we all have felt profoundly in our depths—the necessity and difficulty of following one’s dreams.” —Dr. Charles Johnson, Middle Passage, National Book Award
Its details exquisite and its characters compelling, Dancing with Langston is a powerful novel about the rewards and the realities of following one’s dreams.
A family tale that skillfully brings the magic of the Harlem Renaissance into the present.
A subtle subtext to Skeeter’s novel is the gentrification of urban neighborhoods. At one point, near the end, Carrie has this thought: “I wondered who would enter the new doors [of the renovated building]. Would the new young residents sense the ghosts that would always lurk in these rooms?” That’s another good question.
Patrick T. Reardon
Third Coast Review
Dancing with Langston is a delightful book. The mystery woven into relationships among the cast of characters keeps the reader interested. Trying to understand Doyle creates as much of an emotional investment in the reading as wanting to shake Carrie to her senses. Sharyn Skeeter has created a novel that pulls us into a small, cloistered world, with interesting characters dropping into our space as we share Carrie’s experience for two days in Harlem.