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  • Published: 1 July 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099561576
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $29.99

A Bunch of Fives

'Lorrie Moore with a BBC accent' Jay McInerney

Since the 1990 publication of her first collection, Four Bare Legs in a Bed, Helen Simpson has been hailed as one of the best short story writers at work in the world today. These wonderfully funny and penetrating stories take on the full stretch, from birth to death and everything in between, in writing of remarkable originality and clarity.

  • Published: 1 July 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099561576
  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

Helen Simpson

Helen Simpson's sixth short-story collection, Cockfosters, follows Four Bare Legs in a Bed (1990), Dear George (1995), Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (2000), Constitutional (2005) and In-Flight Entertainment (2010). A Bunch of Fives: Selected Stories (2012) includes five stories from each of her first five collections. She has received the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M.Forster Award. She lives in London.

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Praise for A Bunch of Fives

This is an outstanding collection of stories-the product of a new, original voice

Hilary Mantel reviewing 'Four Bare Legs in a Bed'

Of all contemporary writers, Simpson has the most honest, the most authentic voice... [Her] unfooled but kind eye is matched by her ear for the ebb and flow of everyday talk. But she does more than just record: every word rings true. Dear George shimmers with grace and savagery and wit

Nigella Lawson

A stunner of a collection

Jonathan Franzen reviewing 'Hey Yeah Right Get a Life', New York Times Book Review

A masterful contemporary exponent of the genre. Simpson now deserves to be compared with Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro

Robert McCrum reviewing 'Constitutional', Observer

Short stories are notoriously difficult to sell, but even people who don't care for the form make an exception for the work of Helen Simpson...Wickedly funny and painfully true...Dangerously close to perfection

Kate Saunders reviewing 'In-Flight Entertainment', The Times

The most sensuous writer in the land

Fay Weldon, Mail on Sunday

Absolutely brilliant... I never knew what the phrase "she can write like an angel' meant until I read this babe's book. Because you don't really think of angels writing, do you?You think of them playing harps, and flying about, and grooving en masse on the head of a pin...But there is something other-worldly, something seraphically savage about Helen Simpson's work

Julie Burchill

Helen Simpson is a writer with such a gift for sweet tenderness that one could almost overlook the glittering sharpness of the insights...[Her stories] are both deeply pleasurable, and-particularly for male readers-deeply uncomfortable.Not many writers manage to be as funny as Helen Simpson without sacrificing the honesty that her writing unmistakably has

Philip Hensher, Mail on Sunday

Ample proof of her pre-eminent brilliance in the short form…her acute probing of malfunctioning relationships are both provocative and highly entertaining

James Urquhart, Financial Times

I found her stories just as hard to put down as I used to; and repeated exposure to them just makes one appreciate the artistry even more… Simpson keeps her eyes open to what is around her, as well as to what is within her characters. It's the kind of detail that makes us wish she would hurry up so that we can read her thoughts about what's going on right now, the precise contours of our present anxieties. I suspect that she will have much to say, and be able to say it very well

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

A compact insight into the acclaimed writers work

Big Issue

Simpson, to my mind, is one of the best contemporary chroniclers of womanhood that I’ve read. She manages to get under the skin of her characters in a way that makes you feel you know them and completely understand their anxieties, at each point in their lives


She’s a genius at noticing and listening

Andrew O'Hagan, Scotland on Sunday

Unexpected tales, perfectly pitched…suggesting Simpson sprand fully formed when she began writing

Lesley McDowell, Sunday Herald

The great thing about Helen Simpson – or one of the great things – is that she pins people down so beautifully…her phrases sparkle

William Leith, Evening Standard

Simpson's meticulous fragments of contemporary self-delusion make beautiful narrative shapes out of the ordinary horrors of domestic life

John Mullan, Guardian