Edited by Khushwant Singh
(First published 2005)
I am always interested in fiction written by of the Subcontinental or desi writers. What made me buy this volume, however, was the fact that the stories were selected by the legendary Khushwant Singh.
What makes this collection stand out is the variety of form and content. It includes two stories on science fiction in Indian context (Unfaithful Servants and Alienation), a story written in e-mail exchange format between a blackmailer and the blackmailed (Bollox), one which is written in pretty much urban slang about a young teenage girl growing up in a motherless house and with an uncle who is a lecher, and the difficulties which the girl faces (If Brains Was Gas), another about the ever growing and booming Indian media which coldheartedly plays on the sentiments of semi-literate people to get a good news story (Scoop).
My favourites are two. One which is about two kids growing up in a family in which the the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law play home-politics against each other, using kids to their own ends, completely oblivious to their issues and giving them grievous psychological harm (Ajji’s Miracle). The other story, which I rate as the best, is told from the eyes of a 5-years old boy who grows up in a town full of Hindu-Muslim riots. It shows the way in which a kid perceives the communitarian politics and riots which result in the deaths of dozens (During the Long Riots, the Fragrance of Caticura).
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