10 Controversial Short Stories

It caused an uproar upon its publication, but Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is considered by many to be her most famous work. She essentially conceived of The Hunger Games before it existed with her story about one village’s bizarre ritual, examining persecution, blind acceptance, and the parallels to her own life. Today is the author’s birthday. Inspired by “The Lottery’s” significance, we highlighted other controversial short stories, below. Feel free to add to our list with your personal favorites.


Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery

The residents of an insular New England village commit ritual murder in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. The author wrote the story after she moved to Bennington, Vermont and became a professor at the local college. Jackson’s family was the target of anti-Semitic harassment, and the experience made a profound impact on the author. “I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives,” she said of “The Lottery” after the publication shocked and upset readers. The New Yorker was hit with complaints and people even went so far as to cancel their subscriptions. Jackson received non-stop hate mail, and the book was banned in certain countries.