Selected Shorts: A Father's Story

Audio not yet available
Email a Friend

Zadie Smith turns back time in this story of a memorable chance encounter between two veterans down on their luck. 

This program features a single story from the critically acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith, whose works include White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and her most recent novel, NW.  “Hanwell in Hell” was first published in “The New Yorker.”  It recounts in the form of a letter a memorable encounter between a bankrupt businessman and a fellow veteran, now working as a bus boy in a seedy pub.  Special guest Colm Toibin discusses the story with SHORTS literary commentator Hannah Tinti, noting Smith’s recreation of post-War Britain—a land of failed men who had once known adventure.  The two also comment on Smith’s love of language, and her ear for dialogue on both sides of the Atlantic. 

“Hanwell in Hell” is performed by Richard Easton, who won Tony and Drama Desk awards for his portrayal of the poet A.E. Housman in Tom Stoppard’s “The Invention of Love.”

“Hanwell in Hell,” was performed as part of a special evening at Symphony Space featuring both Zadie Smith and Colm Toibin, who discussed their work from the stage.  Listen to part of that talk here:

“Hanwell in Hell,” by Zadie Smith, performed by Richard Easton.

The SELECTED SHORTS theme is David Peterson's “That's the Deal,” performed by the Deardorf/Peterson Group.

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

We’re interested in your response to these programs.  Please comment on this site or visit

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

Announcing the 2013 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize.  Check this link for details.