The 20 short stories in this collection were chosen by series editor Furman in consultation with jurors Kevin Brockmeier, Francine Prose, and Colm Toibin. The stories range in style from the gritty noir of David Means' "Sault Ste. Marie" to the mesmerizing mythmaking of Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves," while the settings include a village perched on top of an enormous whale (David Lawrence Morse's "Conceived") as well as a swank suite at the Plaza Hotel (Xu Xi's "Famine"). The three most powerful stories seem to have in common the ability to immerse readers in a character's sudden, searing moment of self-knowledge and the way that insight impacts the course of a life. In Edward P. Jones' elegiac, masterful "Old Boys, Old Girls," a hard-bitten con comes to see that redemption is within his reach. Deborah Eisenberg delicately deconstructs a young girl's attraction to an abusive man in the haunting "Windows." And, finally, the storied Alice Munro, in "Passion," conveys the complex inner world of a teenager who discovers she values risk over security.