2018 has been a banner year for short story collections. There were many to pick from -- whether debut collections by first-time writers or new ones from seasoned practitioners. There were also a few posthumously-published ones. While it was difficult to select only 12, each one here is strikingly different and pushes the boundaries of both genres and storytelling. There are several other notable collections listed at the end as well.
Gelfand's thesis is that a culture is shaped, primarily, by its perceptions of internal or external threat. The greater the sense of threat, the tighter it gets with rules and norms and vice versa. Threat-driven tight cultures seek order and unity and do not allow for the ambiguities or risk-taking that loose cultures revel in. Throughout, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, Gelfand gives many examples — both historical and contemporary — to prove how the customs that have shaped worldviews, behaviors, identities, and personal lives in any particular culture, have originated from underlying perceptions of threat. Whether a culture embraces diversity or division, its tolerance for norms deviation or permissiveness depends largely on whether it's a rule-making tight culture or a rule-breaking loose culture. (And within any given culture type there will also always be pockets of the opposite type.)
My review of Akil Kumarasamy's debut short story collection is now up at PopMatters. It is an interlinked set of short stories, so I also talk a bit about how such collections work.