In the final decades of the twentieth century, the American short story enjoyed what many critics have called a renaissance of interest among both popular readers and professional critics. Stimulated partially by the popularity of such writers as Raymond Carver, who specialized in the short story, and the willingness of such editors as Gordon Lish, who encouraged short-story writers, a large number of short-story collections began to be published in the 1970’s. So many have been published in the last few decades that this survey must focus only on the most representative and influential short-story writers of the period.
Because surveys of the short story in other countries are included elsewhere in Critical Survey of Short Fiction, this survey will focus only on writers in America and England; and since the short story has never been a popular form in England, whereas it has enjoyed burgeoning success in America, the focus will primarily be on the American short story. Also, since the short story as an expression of cultural diversity in America is admirably covered in special surveys on the African American, Native American, Asian American, and Latino short story elsewhere in Critical Survey of Short Fiction, this essay will not cover those areas.