Review of Shome Dasgupta's ANKLET AND OTHER STORIES

Anklet And Other Stories

Anklet And Other Stories by Shome Dasgupta
Anklet And Other Stories
by Shome Dasgupta (Goodreads Author)
Holly Simpson Fling's review  (Five Stars)
Jul 17, 2017

It was amazing
Read from July 15 to 17, 2017

ANKLET AND OTHER STORIES (Golden Antelope Press, 2017) is award-winning poet Shome Dasgupta’s first published collection of short stories; though, he has published many individual stories in literary journals and magazines. From moments that seem mystical to the cultural negotiations of American-Bengali narrators, the influence of other writers (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Satyajit Ray, Jhumpa Lahiri, etc.) on Dasgupta’s writing is undeniable, yet the stories in this collection have a distinct style that seems to be derived from the writer’s unique perception of the world.

Dasgupta invites us into a world in which the boundary between the human and nonhuman realms is not quite as stable as we might have believed. In “The Boatman’s Home,” for example, the river holds power over the boatman, and, like the previous boatman, whose “decayed matter” had become part of the river, when the current boatman dives into the water, it “seep[s] into his blood” (6). The boundary that separates the boatman from the Ganges River dissolves, making it impossible to distinguish man from water. When Dasgupta looks in the mirror, it seems that the mirror looks back, and it is this perspective of the world that he brings into his fiction.

While this fluidity of boundaries is a theme that runs throughout the collection, Dasgupta adds further cohesion to the stories by weaving together recurring images. When, for instance, the Ganges River, Kolkata’s traffic, and clowns appear in multiple stories, they form a link that makes the stories, like the boatman and the river, seem inseparable from one another.

From the illustrated front cover, which stamps the beauty of reality onto the fictional world, Dasgupta draws us in with his curious perspectives and images of Indian culture, but he keeps us engaged with a narration that focuses on the emotions and experiences that drive all of us.

Indeed, through narratives that revolve around love, death, families, and relationships, Dasgupta kept me reading: this is a difficult collection to put down, and once I finished it, the stories stayed with me. Dasgupta might be known for his poetry, but it seems he has mastered the short story genre as well, and I look forward to reading his next collection.