Sunday Book Review
Today’s Sunday Book Review is on a very short book – a short story titled The Lottery, written by Shirley Jackson. It was first published in 1948 in the June edition of the New Yorker Magazine, which made her famous.
I don’t even know how I came across this book while I was visiting Amazon, but I began reading reviews about this book and how it became a literary favorite and part of the reading curriculum in middle and high schools back in the 1950s and 60s, yet people seem to be re-reading it now. As a person who is always interested in ‘what’s all the buzz about?’ I bought the book and read it in less than 45 minutes. Personally speaking, I really don’t get what the buzz is all about, but I share my review below.
In a small American town, the local residents are abuzz with excitement and nervousness when they wake on the morning of the twenty-seventh of June. Everything has been prepared for the town’s annual tradition—a lottery in which every family must participate, and no one wants to win.
“The Lottery” stands out as one of the most famous short stories in American literary history. Originally published in The New Yorker, the author immediately began receiving letters from readers who demanded an explanation of the story’s meaning. “The Lottery” has been adapted for stage, television, radio and film.
My 4 Star Review:
This book is touted as one of the most famous short stories in American literature written by Shirley Jackson. It’s a dark tale about a small town of people who are made to participate in the annual town lottery event.
Jackson undoubtedly has a wonderful writing style, able to draw readers in with tight prose and well fleshed out characters and she takes us into a story about a seemingly average event where everyone is preparing to head to the town’s center to pick out their lottery paper – only one winner? loser? will be chosen.
The story haunts us by the actions of the people and how desperate they are with hope not to be chosen, to the point of selling out their own family members. It leaves us feeling uncomfortable about thinking how and why society should accept this grim event as the norm.
I wasn’t bowled over about this book as many readers were, despite good writing. It left me thinking about the human condition and society. It was creepy and most of all left me wondering – why the lottery at all? Can older days become modern times?
I’d classify this story as early American Gothic Fiction – let’s hope it stays that way.