"What Sprouts Here These Days"- A Short Story by Jose Varghese - from Best Asian Short Stories 2019 - With Some Remarks on the collection.
In 2012 Jose Varghese honored me by allowing me to publish two of his original short stories on The Reading Life.
You may (and should) read these stories here.
Our story is set somewhere in India. A father is at work. His wife has just called him saying their four year old son Khalid has left the family compound on his bike. His boss has just returned from the USA. The country is in a financial crisis that threatenes the future of the company. His boss demands he come right away, a two hour trip through streets full of violence as the area spirals out of control.
Justaposing the father's distress, the son is elated to be free to ride around without supervision. Of course he has no understanding of how much danger he is in. We go along on his ride. We get, along with his father, more worried every few minutes.
I don't want to say any more about the story of the dramatic closing. "What Sprouts Here These Days" is, as I knew it would be, a first rate short story.
Varghese has captured the feel of the city, driven apart by ancient divisions while letting us see how different the son's experience of the city is from his father.
Jose Varghese is the author of ‘Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ and his short story manuscript ‘In/Sane’ was a finalist in the 2018 Beverly Prize, UK. His works have appeared or in journals/anthologies like The Best Asian Short Story Anthology 2019, Unveiled, The Salt Anthology of New Writing, Unthology 5, Reflex Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, 10 Red, Mulberry Fork Review, The River Muse, Chandrabhaga, Kavya Bharati, Postcolonial Text, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis and Bengaluru Review. He was the winner of The River Muse Spring Poetry Contest, a runner-up in the Salt Flash Fiction Prize and two Faber QuickFic contests, and a second prize winner in the Wordweavers Flash Fiction Prize. He was a finalist in Hourglass Short Story Contest and two of the Eyewear Fortnight Poetry Prize competitions, and was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. He is the founder and chief editor of Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts and Strands Publishers, India, and is currently teaching in Jazan University, Saudi Arabia.
There are 24 stories in Best Asian Short Stories, 2019, from 17 different countries. The stories were selected from submitted works and it appears none have been published before. The writers range from three published for the first time to very successful authors.
I recommend this anthology to anyone interested in expanding the range of their reading in Asian based short stories.
From the publisher
War, loss, love, compassion, nightmares, dreams, hopes and catastrophes; this is literary Asia at its best. From a wide range of geographies spanning from Palestine to Japan, from Kazakhstan to the Malaysia, mobilizing a wide array of innovative narrative styles and writing techniques, the short stories of this anthology, carefully curated by one of Asia’s prominent and daring writers, will take you on a power trip of deep exploration of local (yet global) pains and hopes, a celebration (and contemplation) of humanity and its impact, as explored by 24 writers and 6 translators, many of whom identify with many homes, giving Asia what it truly represents across (and beyond) its vast territory, expansive history, and many traditions and languages. This book is an open celebration of multi-faceted creativity and plurality.
The Best Asian Short Stories 2019 includes
JOEL DONATO JACOB (Philippines)
LANA ABDEL RAHMAN (Lebanon)
RAZIA SULTANA KHAN (Bangladesh)
DEENA DAJANI (Palestine)
ALAN IRID FENDI (Syria)
SAMIDHA KALIA (India)
SCOTT PLATT-SALCEDO (Philippines)
ANITHA DEVI PILLAI (Singapore)
ANGELO WONG (Hong Kong)
ODAI AL ZOUBI (Syria)
SIMON ROWE (New Zealand / Japan)
SEEMA PUNWANI (Singapore)
VRINDA BALIGA (India)
NAMRATA PODDAR (India / USA)
T.A. MORTON (Irealand / Hong Kong)
HAMID ISMAILOV (Uzbekistan)
SUCHI GOVINDARAJAN (India)
YD CHANG (China / Malaysia)
JOLIN KWOK (Malaysia)
IMRAN KHAN (Bangladesh)
YAN TI (Taiwan)
ZIRA NAURZBAYEVA (Kazakhstan)
KAISA AQUINO (Philippines)
JOSE VARGHESE (India)