I first heard of Tania James when Amazon recommended her new and first collection of short stories, Aerogrammes, to me. I know Amazon bashing is the trendy thing and I know they have negatively impacted lots of others in the book business. I look upon things from the point of view of a consumer of books, a reader. As this, I think Amazon is a wonderful thing for the readers of the world, overall. E reading has changed things forever and I am glad. I have been buying books from Amazon so long and browsed so much that I look at the works they recommend to me. When I saw a glowing review by Karen Russell about the work of Tania James, I downloaded a sample copy and I looked online for her short stories. I found two that could be read online for free. I liked them both a lot. There is some logic in comparing her work to Jhumpa Lahiri, itself a great complement. Both focus on people with ancestral roots in India now living in the United States and the conflicts brought about by having disparate cultures impacting a person. I will just talk about one of them.
"The Other Gandhi" is a really well done story about the aspirations of a man, working in a camera store who sees himself as an actor and has had a few minor roles in the theater and some commercials but not enough to quit his day job. He is offered a part as Gandhi, partially because he is Indian. It is an odd sounding German low budget movie. It is being made without him speaking, a German will do the voice. He has a crush on an Indian woman working in the store. She is very excited to hear of the movie and she invites him over to her place to watch the classic Attenborough movie on Gandhi. She loans him books on Gandhi, fixes him vegetarian meals, and loans him books on Gandhi. He begins to try to understand the teachings of Gandhi. When the film premiers imagine Royce's shock when he sees the opening credits:
For sure I hope to read her collection and novel one day.