January 17, 2021 12:30:00 pm
A short fiction anthology showcases both young and established writers from every part of South Asia and its diaspora.
The stories in this selection titled “The Banyan and Her Roots” were originally published in the “The Equator Line” magazine over the past eight-nine years.
Writer Jad Adams, who has chosen the stories and edited them, says these are tales of anxious women and confused men, of relationships which start in the glow of love but end in a baffling clash of contradictory cultures; oppressive family relationships with overwhelming obligations; travellers feeling out of place in a new culture, but also being liberated in a new environment. Of the 23 writers in the volume, 13 are women. Seven Pakistani writers have also made it to the book, published by Palimpsest.
There is a commonality of tone in the work of women writers from across the borders. They all stand up to patriarchy and reject war as a way for the neighbours to dominate each other. They are more concerned about the war going on for hundreds of years inside their homes. Meghna Pant’s “The Oleander Girl”, in particular, sheds light on this area.
The book, unlike any other in the recent past, captures authentically the malaise and aspirations of South Asian societies. Commending Adams’ work, writer Namita Gokhale says, “This selection of 25 sparkling stories bookmarks both the unity and the diversity of ‘this part of the world’. The range and sweep of this short fiction anthology memorably document the dilemmas, the hopes and hurts, the teeming narratives of South Asia.”
“Reading the stories from India and its neighbourhood, one recognises their identical concerns; a realisation sets in that the division is only political, culturally they are the same people. This collection is a celebration of a rich literary tradition that distinguishes South Asia. Seeking to put the book in a historical perspective, writer Bevis Hillier says, “Not since Rudyard Kipling has here been such a collection of stories about India (and its neighbours) of such quality and insight. Many of the stories are deeply moving; several involve a clash of cultures. Some deal with subjects forbidden to Kipling – porn films and gay sex among them.”
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