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Short Story Collections


Soma Banerjee

FIRST LOVE
By Brinda Charry
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 224, Rs. 250.00

FAIRYISH TALES
By Sumit Mullick
Macmillan Publishers, Delhi, 2010, pp. 360, Rs. 295.00

BHOG AND OTHER STORIES
By Ankur Betageri
Pilli Books, bengaluru, 2011, Rs. 221.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 5 May 2011

The books under review are three collections of short stories, each quite different from the other in content and style. Brinda Charrys characters are drawn from her childhood and surroundings. In Sumit Mullicks world, nothing is as it appears on the surface. Ankur Betageri adds an element of the surreal and improbable to his world.   First Love is a compilation of eleven short stories, several of which were published earlier in The Hindu and other publications. She won the Katha Award for Creative Fiction for Shadow, a heartwarming story about a Muslim woman who takes shelter in the shed of a brahmin womans house. The initial stories in the compilation were written early on in her career. The reader witnesses the evolution of Charrys craft from simplistic childlike descriptions of pain and love in Mallika to the more complex and nuanced story of Ramanujan in Boston Brahmin. This collection, loosely based on the theme of love, touches upon a diverse set of social issues. Through each of these stories, she paints a vivid picture of the world that is so familiar to us.   First Love, the story from which the book derives its name is centred on love and jealousy. It captures the mean and selfish aspect of love, which robs a child of innocence, blinds a person to the extent of destroying the happiness of the loved one. Shadow explores another kind of lovethe kind that stems from compassion and mutual understanding. In this story, Charry effectively captures the anguish of two seemingly different womenone a supposedly fallen woman on the run after killing her lover and the other a housewife of twenty years who still does not feel at home within the four walls of the house. Raghus love in Waiting for the Queen is of yet another kind, the kind that compels him to run eight miles in half an hour. In Mr William Graham: A Ghost Story, Sundaris selflove leaves quite an impression and you cannot stop yourself from raising your hat to her.   Brinda Charrys characters are real and well etched out. Though you may not empathize with the plight of Sundari or comprehend young Raghus passionate outbursts, yet you will not remain untouched by them. The narrative is simple, freeflowing and engaging. Charry does not believe in embellishing her plots and characters with unnecessary details, and leaves you to interpret them on the basis ...


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