Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Muse India-A Great Source for South Asian Short Stories and a Powerful new story by Mangala Varma

"Some Kiss and Don't Tell" by Mangala Varma (3 pages, 2011)

A Very Moving Story of a Universal Tragedy

I.    Today I want to let people know of another online only publication, Muse India .   I will also post on a powerful short story by Mangala Varma from that publication.

Muse India has a very clear statement of purpose.

"Started and run by a group of writers, Muse India is a literary e-journal with the primary objective of showcasing Indian writings in English and in English translation to a broad-based global readership. The journal publishes both creative and critical writing and offers a wide range of literary forms—poetry, short fiction, essays, conversations with writers, book reviews and the like. Bearing in mind the general readership on the Internet, it will, however, avoid highly academic articles. Besides presenting the work of more established authors, Muse India will also promote talented new and young writers. "

Muse India features new writers as well as established authors.   It also has cultural articles and human interest stories.   The current issue (number 37) has as its feature article "Food in Indian Literature".   Anyone interested in Indian and South Asian short fiction will find it a great resource.   All 36 back issues are online.   There are 100s of very interesting looking articles and promising short stories.    

Mangala Varma,  the author of "Some Kiss and Don't Tell",  has a strong academic background.   She has designed curriculum programs in English language for MBA and MCA students and taught at several prestigious universities.   She currently lives in Punjab, India.   

"Some Kiss and Don't Tell" is a very said, very poignant story set in modern India about the long term consequences of child abuse by a trusted  relative.   It starts out in a car with a young girl and her uncle ("uncle" is also used as a term of respect for an older male family friend).   The uncle forces himself on the girl.   What precisely happens is not made exactly explicit but for sure it was very traumatic for the girl.   Varma tells the story in a very interesting style that makes us feel we are there.  The prose has a kind of freeze frame cinematic feel that I really liked.    The girl never really tells her parents what happened as she is too ashamed.   

"Ashrafi came home. The dining table was set. Mom, papa, aunts, uncles were waiting for hero bhai sahib for dinner. Nobody noticed Ashrafi and her discomfort at that moment and Ashrafi too didn’t tell anything about the dirty room and the dirty hands to anybody. Time moved on and the child flowed like the river, nourished by the joint family milieu and Punjabiyat reminiscences. "

I thought the line "Time moved on and the child flowed like the river, nourished by the joint family milieu and Punjabiyat reminiscences" very beautiful.     "A Child flowing like the river" echos and evokes the sacred rivers of India.   

At midpoint in the story, the narration jumps to the young woman now 19 and in college.    I will not tell more of the plot but it is very well narrated and beautifully written.   The prose is not standard Victorian English but to expect that it would be is to miss much of the point of post colonial literature and of this story.    I totally endorse this work.

You can read "Some Kiss and Don't Tell" at Muse India

I am in the very opening stages in my reading of South Asian Short Stories.   I was very glad to see that in his landmark book on short stories which I am currently reading (The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story, 1963) Frank O'Connor, says that the Indian Short Story is beginning to surpass the Irish Short Story.    Happily for me I do not have to choose between these two reading areas.    There is a significant mutual influence, it seems to me.   

Mel u

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