Selected Shorts: Arrivals and Departures

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A couple with a rocky marriage learn a life lesson when their home is invaded, and a whole community disappears in a powerful story about the Japanese internment, leaving their bewildered, or blinkered, neighbors behind.

Our first story is Nahid Rachlin’s “Strangers in the House,” in which a prosperous couple who have drifted apart find their holiday home filled with slackers.    Iranian-born Rachlin is the author of the memoir Persian Girls, four novels—Jumping Over Fire, Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, and The Heart’s Desire—as well as the short story collection Veils.  Reader  Freda Foh Shen’s theatre, film, and television credits include Genet’s “The Balcony,” “Crossing Delancey,” and “Basic Instinct,” and roles on shows such as “24” and “Boston Legal.”

Julie Otsuka has carved out an American subject—the displacement and internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II—which she treated masterfully in her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, from which we have broadcast several excerpts.  These have all been written from the point of view of the Japanese-Americans themselves as they try to cope with the catastrophe befalling them.  In the work you are about to hear, “A Disappearance,” the point of view is that of their neighbors, the white Americans they lived among.  “A Disappearance” is part of Otsuka’s new novel, The Buddha in the Attic, and she discusses her work in an interview with Isaiah Sheffer.

The reader is Jane Kaczmarek, a star of the popular television series “Malcolm in the Middle.”

The musical interlude is “Chidori,” from The Ongaku Masters, and the SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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And for more thoughts on the stories in SHORTS, check out literary commentator Hannah Tinti’s site at