Paul Bowles Short Stories

The short stories of Paul Bowles can be cynical and unsentimental. He was an expert at ruining the lives of his characters. If you don’t like his stories, they’re callous; if you like them, they’re coldly captivating.

Paul Bowles Short Stories

The Scorpion

An old woman lives in a hollowed out cave that her sons had prepared for her before they left to live in the town. She is content there and doesn’t talk to anyone who passes by. The cave is also home to many scorpions.

This story can be read in the preview of The Stories of Paul Bowles.

A Distant Episode | Paul Bowles

A linguistics Professor visits Ain Tadouirt, in the warm country. He goes to the cafe of Hassan Ramani, a man he had met ten years earlier. After finding out his old acquaintance is dead, he gets a local to show him where to buy some goods he is looking for. They set off on a walk.

This story can also be read in the preview of The Stories of Paul Bowles.

By the Water 

Amar decides to visit a neighboring city where he believes he has some cousins. He sets out for the bus station in the early morning; he doesn’t arrive in the other city until after dark. He tries to find somewhere to sleep.

This story can also be read in the above preview of The Stories of Paul Bowles.

Call at Corazón | Paul Bowles

A man and woman are on their honeymoon in South America on a boat tour that stops at small ports. The man wants to buy a monkey to take with them but the woman objects. There is hostility between them. The boats are crowded and full of insects.

This story can be read in the above preview of The Stories of Paul Bowles.

The Echo 

Aileen is in a small plane on her way to Columbia to visit her mother. She rereads a letter which says her mother and Prue (a woman she lives with) are happy there, that she feels a bit guilty about not saying goodbye, and that she will like Prue despite the tension between them.

This story can be read in the above preview of The Stories of Paul Bowles.

The Delicate Prey 

Three Filala leather merchants set out for Tessalit. This will mean passing thru territory contiguous to the dangerous Reguibat tribe. They decide that their small group won’t attract much attention. They are also armed in case they are confronted.

The Eye 

Duncan March was a Canadian living in Tangier. He died several years ago. The narrator hears his story and decides to look into his death. Duncan rented a house. He hired a Moroccan night-watchman, dismissed the cook, and hired another cook recommended by the watchman. He soon experienced digestive problems.

An Inopportune Visit

Santa Rosenda gets homesick and decides to return to Earth after several hundred years in space. She doesn’t want to attract attention, so she decides to materialize in an out of the way place.

The Fqih

A dog bites a young man in the street. People say he should go to the doctor, but he laughs it off. Concerned, his younger brother consults the fqih, who gives him drastic advice.

Read “The Fqih”

The Husband 

Abdallah lives with his wife outside of town. She supports them by working as a maid and stealing from her employers. After a disagreement about what to do with some of their plunder, Abdallah starts visiting Zohra, a young woman whose husband had recently left.

In the Red Room 

The narrators elderly parents came to visit him once in Sri Lanka. They adapted well to the heat, unusual food, and lack of conveniences. While touring a botanical garden, his mother got into a conversation with a strange young man. He tagged along and they found it hard to shake him.

Read “In the Red Room”


A young girl nicknamed Kitty figures she must be called this because she will turn into a cat. She keeps close watch on her appearance. One day she thinks she sees tiny whiskers.

I’ll keep adding Paul Bowles short stories as I find more.