Book Review: Tell me a long, long story by Mini Krishnan



Genre: Fiction/Anthology

Publishers: Aleph

Price: Rs. 699/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

The long short story is a compelling literary form. Neither as brief as the classic short story nor as long as the novella, it is a piece of writerly art that can be read in a single sitting, yet allows the writer to properly explore setting, character, atmosphere and plot. In the hands of a master, ‘the long short’ is just the right length to provide an extraordinary reading experience— a story that you can sink into.

The authors represented in this volume, the first of its kind in India, are Bolwar Mahamad Kunhi, Chetan Raj Shrestha, Gopikrishnan, Habib Kamran, Ismat Chughtai, Kamalakanta Mohapatra, K. R. Meera, Kolakaluri Enoch, Mahasweta Devi, Shripad Narayan Pendse, Nirmal Verma and Waryam Singh Sandhu. They tell stories of strong women and ruthless men, humour and pathos, town, village and countryside, death and oppression, crime and terror, love and witchcraft. Taken together, the stories in this book allow you to see India in ways that you have never done before..

About the Author

Mini Krishnan edits translations for Oxford University Press (India). She is the Consultant Editor of the translation programme of the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur.

There are some books that capture a piece of your soul, never allowing you to reclaim it. They leave a deep imprint, on your thoughts, mood, perception and most importantly your heart, changing you forever as an individual. For me the list of such books starts with Manto, Clutch of masterpieces, Malgudi Days etc. and today I found another gem to add to that list. This book is a collection of 12 translated long short stories by some magnificent names in Indian literature. It is a collector’s edition by all means and adds glory to the book shelf. 

Talking about the stories, when you have names like Ismat Chugtai and Mahashweta Devi mentioned you know for sure you are in for a treat. But what delighted me more, was this book helped me discover some new authors whose work I have been devouring feverishly ever since. Flawless translation and a marvelous collection of masterpieces this book is a gem! 

1. Seed by Mahashweta Devi – Immensely powerful and moving, this story by Mahashweta Devi sets the tone for the whole book. It is like a message to the reader as to what to expect from the book. 

2. The King’s Harvest by Chetan Raj Shrestha- A moving read this story left me in dilemma with lot of questions and an internal debate. How often do we try to unearth the truth rather than just believing in what is being shown to us?

3. Signs by Nirmal Verma – In this story, Nirmal Verma demonstrates the uncertainty of life with a certain tenderness and poignancy so well. This gave me goose bumps. 

4. Period of Mourning by Bolwar Mahamad Kunhi – Revolving around the concept of iddat, the period of mourning after losing one’s husband this story is touching. The pain, the trauma, the resentment and the hurt is so palpable through those words. 

5. Bulbuls by Habib Kamran – Such a heartwarming tale of a family of bulbuls narrated in a tone that will leave you smiling. This story is a feel good story, one that can 

6. The Deepest Blue by K. R. Meera – Easily one of my favourites from this collection it is an immensely powerful story of love, lust and longing. I love how the author has displayed the complexities of human relationships and its fragile nature so beautifully that it breaks your heart to read the ending. 

7. Jumman by Shripad Narayan Pendse –This story has a soul of its own and Jumman stays with you. The character is so well narrated with his idiosyncrasies that it captivates your senses and lingers on for long. 

8. The Witch by Kamalakanta Mohapatra – After finishing this story the first thing to come out of mouth was “What a bewitching read!” I had a hearty laugh on that thought because the way it matched the title but that is exactly how I felt about it. 

9. The Fourth Direction by Waryam Singh Sandhu – I connected with this story a lot because it talks about feeling scared in your own country. The place where not only you, your forefathers were born and have died today looks like a scary place to exist. You don’t know what could happen next, which of your actions could trigger something and you could end up losing your life. I read this story with my heart in my mouth all that time, wondering how the author knew exactly what I was feeling at this moment. 

10. A Place to Live by Gopikrishnan- Written in a humorous tone, this story made a special place in my heart simply because of its innocence. 

11. Hunger by Kolakaluri Enoch – I faintly remember my grandfather reading the works of Kolakaluri Enoch and narrating them to me. (Though my mother tongue is Telugu I can sadly neither read it nor write it. Nevertheless I have read extensive translations from Telugu literature to get the feel.) In his writing style, I admire his nakedness or brazenness the most. The ability to put to words the most honest thoughts of your mind as they are is an art mastered by few, and the author is one of them. This story is one that I read couple of times, not because I didn’t understand it but because it was one of those works whose beauty got revealed layer by layer. Every time I read it there was something new that I noticed about the story and fell in love, yet again.

12. Lingering Fragrance by Ismat Chugtai – For me, she is, was and will always be the queen of storytelling. Her prose never fails to move me, beyond words. She has an eye for observing the minutest things in life and giving them an entirely different meaning making you ponder. For me, she manages to redefine human relationships every single time. In this story as well, she weaves magic with her words leaving the reader enthralled.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Chilli Cheese Nuggets - Every bite is full of delightful surprises.

Source: HungryForever