“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
I’ve been saving my favorite story all year, so will close out this challenge with “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I first read it in school when I was an eighth graer and it has stuck with me all these years. I think it may be the greatest short story of the 20th century for so many reasons. I feel personally cheated that she died so young (48)and wish she’d lived to write more books and stories. (She would have been 96 this December 14.) “The Lottery” is widely anthologized and available in many places on the web. One of the things that struck me as I re-read it was the sexual politics of the story, in which boys and men draw for their mothers and wives but young girls draw for themselves (and are eligible for the lottery much earlier than young men). The story was published in 1948 (the same week it was written). Times have certainly changed (see Suzanne Collins’ use of the lottery in Hunger Games.) The craft here is just superb, the little details, the mundane setting, the chilling atmosphere. If you haven’t read the story in a while, here’s your chance. You can read it here.