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  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409090854
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 144

In-Flight Entertainment

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

Poignant, funny and perceptive, Helen Simpson's fifth collection of runs the gamut of emotions and deals with birth, death and everything in between. We shift from a diary chronicling the dangers of life as a woman in the bleak 2040s, to two students falling in love then almost talking themselves out of it in an argument about the end of the world, to a heartfelt anti-cancer spell cast in the hope of protecting a friend.

Moving effortlessly between tragedy and comedy and packed with a host of distinctive voices, this is an outstanding collection from a master of the genre.

  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409090854
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 144

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 In-Flight Entertainment

Queen of domestic wryness


Poignant, perceptive, dazzling

Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

(Simpson) is one of the most sharply funny writers in England today

Kate Webb, Times Literary Supplement

Simpson's art is...refined for being so seemingly effortless, unforced and entertaining

Amanda Craig, New Statesman

This collection is as brilliant as her previous ones

Stephanie Cross, The Lady

The collection as a whole is carefully organised, with the lightest piece butting against the most death-haunted one and a tidy distribution of public and private themes

Christopher Taylor, Guardian

If its subject matter is undeniably uncheery, it is written with a lightness of touch - and a deep but understated poeticism

Lorna Bradbury, Telegraph

Simpson's gifts are a lyrical vocabulary, an authoritative form, a special funny-sad quality and a subtlety of understanding... Add in political argument, and she is a key voice for our time

Margaret Reynolds, The Times

When it comes to contemporary maestros of the short-story form, Helen Simpson is up there with Alice Munro... If they had any sense the 10:10 carbon-reduction campaign would distribute this book for free, such is its power

Lucy Atkins, The Sunday Times

Helen Simpson rarely puts a foot wrong in these stories. She is a wry, humane and brilliant observer of our peculiar condition

William Palmer, Independent

Clever and sharp

Amber Pearson, Daily Mail

Short-story maestro Simpson has produced a collection that asks a central question: are we really going to watch our planet heat up and die? The answer, her finely controlled tales suggest, is yes

Sunday Times Summer Reading

Simpson has such a way of sneaking under the epidermis of British middle-class anguish.... 'Wickedly funny and painfully true

Kate Saunders, The Times

Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy these first-class stories from the mistress of the genre


There isn't a word wasted in the whole book, a virtuoso series of variations on a theme...Whether eavesdropping on passengers during a flight or on couples watching movies in Paris, Simpson does not miss a trick.

Mail on Sunday

Elegant short stories...cleverly bring home their serious message.

Esther Freud, Daily Telegraph, Christmas round up

Shows her at her challenging best

Maggie O'Farrell, Daily Telegraph, Christmas round up

Superbly crafted morality tales, such being Simpson's specialty. Her stories, like the best stories, give the impression of being the last word on the subject, even if, or especially if, that word is enigmatic and open-ended. (She ends her stories beautifully, and never quite the same way twice.) We are told that people these days no longer read short stories. However, they should make an exception for Simpson, and are quite right to do so.

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

These are punchy little stories, full of hidden woe and impending doom

William Leith, Scotsman

There are more typical stories in this volume about marriages in decline, infidelity and friendship, and they work wonderfully. But it is the stories about climate change that may have you pacing the house at night, switching off your electrical equipment

Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times

The sharpness and poeticism of this collection of short stories will feel familiar to Simpson's admirers

Daily Telegraph

Each story creates a whole world, beautifully described and instantly recognisable. Simpson is a writer who has honed her skills in her chosen area of the short story so well that you know you are reading a master

The Bookbag

Short-story maestro Simpson has produced a collection that asks: are we really going to watch our planet heat up and die? The answer, her finely controlled tales suggest, is yes.

Sunday Times

Acerbic, humorous portraits of middle-class metropolitan life'


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