Short Story of the Month: The Night We All Had Grippe

Welcome to the sixth Short Story of the Month

Lock down in certain parts of India is likely to continue, given that the numbers in a few cities and states are continuing their steady ascent.

For many people, this might beckon another frustrating period of being cooped up inside the the home, having to juggle many things in almost claustrophobic conditions.

Reading Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Night We All Had Grippe,” feels like our current cooped up situation is being reflected there.

Shirley Jackson is a well known American short story writer who is most famous for her dystopian short story, The Lottery.

What is the story about?

It is a non fiction story depicting her own struggles as a mother of three children. And on this particular day, the entire family has the grippe or the flu as it known today.

The story begins with the description of the family as one that is fond of puzzles. Then, comes the description of the house, the lie of the land so to say.

Following that is the members trying to adjust to each other being home and trying to sleep and trying to get by with the flu upon them.

Now imagine this for extended period of time? Scary right?

But there is indeed a puzzle for the reader to solve while navigating the story which is the fun aspect of the story.


While the story does bring out the sense of suffocation one can feel by the packed descriptions in the story, one must also remember that this is also the state of mothers who are juggling work and home. Because this story was published in 1952, it depicts how in the post WWII era, and even today, women are forced to prioritise and have to find tiny spaces of time to squeeze in any other work they would want to do, like writing for instance.

Where to read it? 

The story is available at Library of America’s website. Click here to read the PDF. The PDF is only 6 pages long and is quite engaging and you get to try your hands at solving a puzzle, while reading it!

This is part of the series called, Short Story of the Month. Click here to find out more!