In twenty succinct chapters, the study paints a complete portrait of the short story - its history, culture, aesthetics and economics. European innovators such as Chekhov, Flaubert and Kafka are compared to British practitioners such as Joyce, Mansfield and Carter as well as writers in the American tradition, from Hawthorne and Poe to Barthelme and Carver. For the first time attention is paid to experimental, postcolonial and popular fiction, while developments in Anglo-American, Hispanic and Arabic literature are also explored. Critical approaches to the short story are debated and reassessed, while discussion of the short story is related to contemporary critical theory. In what promises to be essential reading for students and academics, the study sets out to prove that the short story remains vital to the emerging culture of the twenty-first century.Key features include: first new survey for many years; comprehensive coverage of the short story from its folktale origins to the present day; twenty clear topic-based chapters covering British, American and world fiction; and, further reading in each chapter together with an extensive and up-to-date bibliography of primary and secondary works.