“The Lottery” — Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson, best known for penning this classic story, was the author of several novels, such as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, the latter of which has been adapted to film twice (both times as The Haunting). She is also the author of dozens of short stories, which appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Collier’s, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s, Mademoiselle, The New Republic, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Frequently anthologized and taught in classrooms around the world, “The Lottery” is a masterwork of dystopian fiction, and is a story whose influence can be felt in several of the other stories in this anthology.

Literature of the early twentieth-century is rich with characters struggling to understand the dwindling importance of rural life. Whether the small towns and agrarian communities were rejected by the characters or if their loss left them pining, there could be no doubt that rural communities were drying up. From Sherwood Anderson to John Steinbeck to the stage of Thornton Wilder, writer after writer tried to capture the end of era.

Science fiction and fantasy writers tackled the topic, too. Many of Ray Bradbury’s greatest pieces are saturated with nostalgia for lost times in little country towns.  In our first story, we offer you one of those small towns, a place not so different from Bradbury’s beloved Green Town, Illinois.  Like Green Town, it’s full of ordinary people working hard to get by, who are drawn together by an annual ritual.