Read a Newly Discovered Kurt Vonnegut Short Story

Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images
Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images / Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images

Literary legend Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007, but the author still has a few more stories to share. Five previously unpublished short stories were recently discovered within his papers, held at Indiana University Bloomington, and one of them is now available to read in The Atlantic. The others will be published in the Vonnegut collection Complete Stories later in September.

The stories were found by Vonnegut’s friend Dan Wakefield and a scholar of the author’s work named Jerome Klinkowitz, both of whom served as editors for Complete Stories. Vonnegut’s archives are held at the Lilly Library at Indiana University Bloomington, which also holds the papers of authors like Sylvia Plath and Upton Sinclair, among others.

New discoveries aren’t entirely rare there—in May 2017, researchers found several previously unknown Plath poems. And this isn't the first posthumous publication of new Vonnegut work—as we put it back in 2012, "Vonnegut’s the Tupac of American literature—the posthumous hits just keep coming." Those hits include previously unpublished short stories, a novella, essays, and more.

The new Vonnegut story, “The Drone King,” likely dates back to the early 1950s, according to Klinkowitz. At that point, the author was just beginning to publish short fiction and had not yet written a novel. (He would eventually publish 14.) The roughly 3700-word short story follows the narrator’s relationship with Sheldon Quick, an eccentric who’s about to resign from a social club called the Millennial Club—where the rules include “no women or flowers allowed past the front desk”—to start a bee-related business venture.

Read the story over at The Atlantic. The magazine has an audio version of the story, if listening's more your style.