RMSYL 13: I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olson (Read by Jean Kwok)

If you haven’t read Jean Kwok‘s short story Where The Gods Fly, you should do so right away. Three reasons (actually five, but I am culturally nudged into saying three): a) It’s an extremely fine short story, and was recognised as such very recently by being shortlisted for the Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award (the only award to offer the princely sum of £30,000 to its winning story). b) Jean’s choice for RMSYL (Tillie Olson’s I Stand Here Ironing) is very clearly the branch from which her cutting was taken in order to provide a starting point for WTGF. To read Kwok is to understand and benefit more from reading Olson, and vice-versa. These two stories, in tandem, read as a fascinating and exemplary model of literary cross-fertilisation over generations and between or through different cultures. I could say more about this, but I’d prefer you to read and then listen to the stories themselves. c) For those who do listen, apart from a wonderful heart-tendering response to the text, Jean concludes our discussion by producing one of the best rationales for reading short stories that I’ve ever heard. This one is so full of vitaminic value you could probably skip your 5-a-day regime (for those who see it as a regime) and just listen to the podcast.

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