Short Story Review: THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson

Original Publication: The New Yorker
Publication Date: June 26, 1948
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★★

The Lottery is a short story by Shirley Jackson which caused quite an uproar when it was published in 1948. It’s about an annual lottery held in a seemingly idyllic village, and readers don’t find out the winner’s prize until the end.

On the day of the drawing, the weather is gorgeous, and the townspeople happily gather in the square for the drawing, laughing and chatting amongst themselves. They talk about how this event has been a part of their village’s history for as long as anyone can remember, and though surrounding towns are doing away with the lottery, this particular village doesn’t want to mess with tradition.

This tale is short, but it packs quite a punch. It only took reading a couple of paragraphs before I got an ominous feeling about the whole thing, and the conclusion was nothing but disturbing. While a 21st century reader may or may not be as affected by the ending as the original audience, the underlying message of Jackson’s story is just as relevant today as ever. The Lottery is definitely worth reading a time or two.

11 thoughts on “Short Story Review: THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson

  1. I remember reading this in first year high school and loving it. The fact that I can remember this clearly, though not everything that happens in the story, is proof of the effect it had on me. Thanks for sharing it. I hope to read it this year for my classics club.

  2. I read this in high school and we performed the play version of it as well and despite amount of time that’s passed since I’ve read this story I could just about recite it still. It definitely sticks with you! I’ve really been enjoying revisiting Jackson’s books.

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