It's not so bad that they've taken their time with Chekhov, for he has had numerous distinguished translators. Indeed, Constance Garnett is much-maligned (perhaps unfairly) for her many translations at the beginning of the 20th century of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, but even her detractors tend to agree that she did good work with Chekhov. (Indeed, until now the best all-around collection of Chekhov stories was The Chekhov Omnibus, edited by Donald Rayfield, who used the Garnett translations, though he did revise them.)
But now we have the best. It's not perfect, but if you can have only one collection of Chekhov stories, this is the one to have. The selection covers Chekhov's entire career, and includes such masterpieces as "Ward No. 6", "The Lady with the Little Dog", "Gusev", "The House with the Mezzanine", "In the Ravine", and many others (30 stories total).
It is a delight to read Chekhov in these translations, because the translators have stuck close to many of the idiosyncracies of Chekhov's style which most other translators ignore or smooth over. Chekhov's world -- a land of moping aristocrats and disenchanted peasants, of former serfs seeking dignity and everyday workers searching for the meaning of life, of lovers and painters and doctors and thieves -- is unique and haunting, and all of its dry absurdities and bleak terrains are rendered here with care and skill and sensitivity. Reading Chekhov is not easy, for he always wanted his readers to work as hard as he did, but it is endlessly, endlessly rewarding.
Of course, Chekhov wrote hundreds and hundreds of stories, so this book provides only a tiny sampling, and any Chekhovian will find favorites missing here (the biggest omission from my point of view is "Dreams" or "Daydreams", which is most readily available in The Portable Chekhov), but the only truly odd omission is of the story "About Love", which is part of a trilogy of stories with "The Man in the Case" and "Gooseberries", both of which are included here.
The novellas (over 50 pages) are also omitted, so there is no "Steppe", no "My Life", no "Three Years" or "The Duel". In a note, the translators suggest that they may do a second book of these.
The stories are arranged chronologically, and a useful introduction and endnotes are also provided. No better introduction to Chekhov's stories is available. (If you're looking for good translations of the plays, check out those of Carol Rocamora and Paul Schmidt.)
In his notebook, Chekhov wrote, "I hope that in the next world I shall be able to look back upon this life and say, 'Those were beautiful dreams.'" Thankfully, we all have the beautiful dreams of his stories.