What We Talk About When We Talk about Anne Frank. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise, then, that the stories themselves are top tier, as well — this is a fantastic, very entertaining group of stories.
In the interest of full disclosure, I rarely read short story collections, but I loved Englander's last novel The Ministry of Special Cases, so I thought I'd give this a try. The most effective way to judge a collection, in my view, is to look back and try to fit each story into categories, such as "Loved," "Really Liked," "Wasn't Bad" and "Didn't much care for." The more stories fall into the first two, the better the story collection. Simple, right? Here's my tally on this collection's eight stories: Loved = 2, Really Liked = 3, Wasn't Bad = 2, Didn't much care for = 1. So, by this very unscientific criteria, this is a very good collection.
The stories here all have a Jewish angle of some sort — they often look at some aspect of how history impacts modern life; how the past informs the future. Not every story mentions the Holocaust, but many do. One of the stories that does, the title story, and one of the two in my "loved" category, is also far and away the funniest. A couple who now live in Israel where they have 10 daughters and practices an ultra-Orthodox form of Judaism, return to the U.S. to visit another couple, their long-time friends. Thankfully, whiskey and pot are kosher, and the four wind up getting toasted...nicely toasted. This wasn't exactly an expected direction for this story. Anyway, the title refers to a game one of the couples plays — they think about their neighbors and other friends (and, eventually, each other), and try to decide whether (or under what conditions) they would sell out those people to the Nazis if those people were hiding in an attic. What results is a rather sobering conclusion to an otherwise pretty funny story.
The second story I loved is titled "Camp Sundown." It's about a new camp director at a place where old Jewish folks go to play cards and whatnot. Two of these campers are certain they recognize a third camper as a guard from a concentration camp — but are they just senile old people, or is there a possibility, however small, that their accusations are true? The new camp director must decide, as the story hurdles towards a rather shocking conclusion.
Again, the other stories (with one exception) here are very good as well — so if you are a fan of short fiction, this is definitely a volume to pick up. Highly recommended!