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The White Road and Other Stories (Salt Modern Fiction) [Paperback]

Tania Hershman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

8 Sep 2008 Salt Modern Fiction
What links a café in Antarctica, a factory for producing electronic tracking tags and a casino where gamblers can wager their shoes? They're among the multiple venues where award-winning writer Tania Hershman sets her unique tales in this spellbinding debut collection.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing (8 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844714756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844714759
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 12.7 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Tania Hershman ( is a former science journalist originally from London and, after 15 years living in Jerusalem, Israel, is now based in Bristol, UK. Commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers, her first short story collection, The White Road and Other Stories (, is published by Salt Modern Fiction. Her second collection, My Mother Was An Upright Piano:Fictions, is published on May 3rd by Tangent Books.

Tania studied maths and physics, and in 2010 became the first writer-in-residence in Bristol University's Faculty of Science, embedding in labs to inspire short stories. She is also one of the judges of the 2012 Royal Society Winton prize for popular science books.

Tania's short stories have been published in print and online in publications including the London Magazine, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly, Riptide, Cafe Irreal, the Hiss Quarterly, Front&Centre, Vestal Review, and Riffing on Strings, an anthology of fiction inspired by String Theory. She has had three stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Tania is the Grand Prize winner of the Binnacle's 2009 Ultra Short Competition, European regional winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's short story competition and joint winner of the 2008 Biscuit Publishing Flash Fiction competition. One of her stories has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

She is the founder and editor of The Short Review (, a site dedicated to reviewing short story collections and anthologies.

Product Description


…an author dripping with talent, this is as good as modern reading gets. (New Scientist Christmas Books Special: Best of 2008)

This collection exemplifies everything that is best about the short story. With succinctness rarely seen in the work of someone new to fiction, Hershman extracts the very essence of a moment to reveal the poignant fragility of human relationships… each story is so different from the next that you will be tempted to read ‘just one more’, until you find you have read the whole book in one sitting. Hershman writes in a variety of style that are sometimes whimsical and playful, other times wry and edgy, so that you never tire of her narrative voice. (Dominique Wilson Wet Ink)


Incredibly lush, intelligent, seductive, Hershman’s collection reveals a marvelously varied repertoire of narrative styles and subjects that are so compelling, so deliciously readable, it’s impossible to finish one story without quickly beginning another. There is a double-genius at work here, a writer who is capable of seamlessly marrying the religion of physics to the twin sciences of loss and desire. Hershman possesses the rare scientific eye and accomplished literary sensibility of Bradbury, the wry clarity of Atwood. This collection is telescopic and rich, it puts down roots, it doesn’t leave you. (Sunshine O’Donnell, author of ‘Open Me’)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This collection of short stories takes as its theme the edgy and sometimes difficult relationship between humanity and science. There is a great deal of energy about the stories, as well as a strong and distinctive voice. Not all main characters are sympathetic but, then again, they're not meant to be - and each one does have a gripping issue to raise or an arresting tale to tell.

My favourites amongst the collection tended to be the longer stories where both character and situation were allowed to live and breathe a little - during some of the shorter/one page tales, I personally felt that interesting scenarios were being unnecessarily curtailed and I would have liked to have known more. It would certainly be fascinating to see some of those very short pieces given a longer life - this author knows how to create character and story, and it's therefore a shame not to use that talent to the full.

That said, it's a very worthwhile collection - special mention has to go to the title story, The White Road (a tale of loss, grief and decisive action - and my personal favourite in the book), Heavy Bones (flash fiction about the start of a marriage that really works and shows not all stories have to be sad), On A Roll (where sacrifice brings about hope and the possibility of a new life), and Express (where the mysteries of language uncover a forgotten history).

Definitely a thought-provoking read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short but perfectly formed :-) 5 Feb 2010
This collection of occasionally very short stories transported me away from the grimness of a hospital waiting room and off to a myriad of other worlds. The tantalising glimpses of many different lives were perfect to dip in and out of (although, in truth, I read the whole book in one sitting - it was a long wait!). The snippets of science intrigued me and coupled with Tania Hershman's beautiful prose made for a spellbinding read. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who loves original and thought-provoking story-telling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking stories 31 Aug 2009
Each story is short and the whole book is short, but post-reading thinking time is long. For me, that's the beauty of this collection. I didn't want to know the characters any better. I wanted to let each story stimulate thoughts of my own, to let my imagination take off from where the story ended and to relate the story to my own outlook on life. And I wasn't disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read collection, a beautiful thing 5 July 2011
A collection of short stories is a tricky thing. The reader needs to get a sense of the writer's unique voice and residual personality and style but without the stories running into sameness. In The White Road and other stories Tania Hershman accomplishes this masterfully. The collection is inspired by articles from science magazines but Tania, a former science journalist, creates her own utterly original and often beautifully surreal interpretations of the science prompt. From the striking title story to the magically unusual Rainstiffiness, each story has something unexpected and weirdly wonderful.

One of Hershman's many fortes is her characterization. There are a range of diverse and memorable characters who linger in the imagination long after the book is read. Two of my favourites were the title characters in Evie and the Arfids and The Incredible Exploding Victor.

For me, as both reader and writer, flash fiction done well has - more than other types of fiction - the greatest potential for joy. To tell a story that is complete and which moves in a few words is a great skill on the part of the writer and for the reader is enthralling. In this collection, some of whose pieces are very short indeed, Tania Hershman demonstrates that skill to a high degree. Each story has its own internal rightness but the collection as a whole has a wonderful breadth and variety. Every story feels like a gift, like spun sugar or the amazing confectionery creations of 'Self-Raising' with its extraordinary climax, Hershman similarly makes fabulous things out of ideas and words, always asking 'what if?'. As a reader I read in open-mouthed awe and joy, as a writer I writhed with envy. This is a must read collection.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science and fiction melded 19 Mar 2009
By B. M. Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There's a great idea behind this collection of short stories. Many of them take an item from New Scientist magazine - a hot snippet of science - and use that as the starting point for a short story. These stories often aren't what you'd describe as science fiction, they're just great short fiction inspired by a scientific theme.

Not every story appealed to me - but I've never yet read a story collection where one did, even from great masters of the genre like Gene Wolfe. I really don't understand why short story collections aren't more popular in our soundbite age. They're a great way to get some fiction in bite-sized chunks. Sometimes - and this is certainly true of Tania Hershman's work - they're poetic.

A great collection.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat to read 7 Sep 2008
By Franky
This slim volume with its stunningly photographed cover contains stories with colour, life, passion, precision and pathos. The shortest is just half a page but it packs a terrific punch. You could read the whole collection in one sitting but I recommend taking your time, allowing the stories to sink in, get under your skin and sing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous read
I had this book in my "to read" pile and I wish I'd got to it sooner. This is a fabulous collection of short stories, with so many memorable stories that will linger vividly in my... Read more
Published on 16 April 2012 by Colin
2.0 out of 5 stars Unrisen soufflees
Looked forward to this book since I am an avid short story fan and the best thing about these short stories is that they're short. Read more
Published on 12 July 2011 by Lulubeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of delights
A wonderful collection of flash fiction, intelligent, touching and compelling. Tania Hershman is a beacon for the modern resurgence of short stories.
Published on 13 July 2010 by C. King
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender-Hearted Stories
Hershman writes with a clear-sighted attitude, expressive tenderness and utter originality. Her flash fiction is palpable, trembling in the moment. Read more
Published on 29 July 2009 by Ms. Melissa C. Houghton
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, love, love it
I love, love, love this book. In my whole life i have re-read maybe 2 or 3 books. I am looking forward to re-reading The White Road. It's like poetry without the pain. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2009 by E. Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars Inventive and affecting
A book of stories inspired by scientific ideas and taking off into the most inventive realms of the imagination. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2009 by Elizabeth Baines
2.0 out of 5 stars Blink And You'll Miss It
Twenty-seven stories fit themselves into this slim collection. Some are extremely short. `Firsts', for instance seems more like a couple of paragraphs taken from a novel than a... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2009 by Bob Ventos
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