Short stories are mostly wonderful to read. However, if you read usual and regular short stories, you might feel bored after a time. Change in themes, style and ideas might get something done for the authors and also for the readers. I have been reading short stories for a while and I have travelled through the lanes of Kafka, Gorky, R K Narayan, Chekhov, Graham Greene, Hardy and so on and so forth… Modern Indian short story writers, mostly in English, have not been able to produce something that might be called extraordinary (with respect to those who have really done well and they are very few, to be frank). Why do Indian short story writers fail to impress? Why don’t they produce something wonderful? Is there any contemporary collection of short stories that I would recommend to the readers and lovers of this genre?
If you are wondering about the mistake that I made in the title of this article, you are mistaken. Happimess is the title of a recent short story collection written by Biswajit Banerji and believe me, these short stories are more than what you can call weird, complex or attractive. There are 13 short stories if we count the first that’s called Introduction And … A Bit More. The short stories emerge from author’s personal indulgence in most of the events described in the short stories… written mostly in the first person, we can also assume that the protagonist represents either the author or author’s ideas. Happimess is different, to be sure, and also an experimental one.
The collections by Jhumpa Lahiri, if you think of her as an Indian (which she is not by her citizenship status), can certainly impress you. Interpreter of Maladies, published 1999, and Unaccustomed Earth (read Unaccustomed Earth review), published in 2008, can be interesting for the readers who look beyond temporal joys in reading short stories. Though her works, unlike many others, might not be immediately interesting for many readers.
Coming to Happimess again, Biswajit Banerji has done a remarkable experiment. He has tried to go beyond the usual distance covered by many authors who write short stories within the periphery of Indian themes. He has fused satirical irony and humour with his plots; and his plots are very common – something that you see happening around you, generally. He says:
“True humour and satire have never ever grown on trees – so as to be plucked and served on a platter the easy-breezy way.”
And I believe his book has tried the best to do justice to this thought! You can notice satire and humour etched in his short stories, very boldly. However, this is something which has generally been pushed into the oblivion by many of the modern (contemporary, especially) writers who write for immediate impact and not for long-term impact on the quality of Indian literature being produced. This can be understood as they need name, fame and also money. However, Biswajit has dared to travel an extra mile and tried to set an exception against his name rather than falling in line with the examples that we find in plenty. The best reward for him will be given by the readers who read and judge his short stories. For short story writing in India, though, it should be said that many need to do many things!
by Amit for Literature News