Hot Ticket

A famous, controversial, and very American short story, reimagined through photographs.

SHIRLEY JACKSON’S 1948 CLASSIC SHORT STORY, “The Lottery,” about a disturbing tradition in an imagined American town has been turned into everything from radio plays (1951) to ballets (1953) and short films (1969). Now, it’s a photo-essay.

“The Lottery” has always provoked strong reactions. It is, as novelist A. M. Homes told the New Yorker in 2008, “a deeply American story, a deeply terrifying story. You know, it kind of comes and goes but it lingers there—I think it embeds in the young American psyche in some way.”

We agree. “What most interests me is the concept of community traditions: why do they exist, how do they persist?” says photographer Steven Brahms, who set out to interpret “The Lottery” with a crew of over 30 people, including set designers, a stylist, gaffers, and grips. “We see a dark side to such rituals, and see how easy it is for people to abandon reason to blindly follow the mob.”

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