For readers in India, the wonderful folk at HarperCollins are putting out e-singles for the Kindle in a new, and beautifully designed, series called Harper 21. The current batch focus on the short story form, and they’ve included my story “The Consul’s Wife.” If you’re in India, and own a Kindle, it’s a mere 21 rupees, which is a steal by any standard. Click here to purchase.
With adeptly drawn characters, Sidhu demonstrates a dexterous grasp of the human psyche, while the prevalence of dark twists displays his love of the fatalistic. This propensity for the morose will be of-putting for some but is sure to please those with a taste for black humor and shades of the diabolical.
Booklist (link here – paywall)
From Outlook India by Shalini Mukerji:
“My father said that in India they gave names to the dark space between the stars. It was the darkness that was novel, scarce, that seemed brilliant against so much light. Sometimes I would find my father late at night in the living room, the lights all off, only the clock glowing on the vcr. He would say that it was such a relief, this darkness, this not being able to see. Only years later did I learn what it was he was hoping not to see,” remarks the floating narratorial voice in Sidhu’s Neanderthal Tongues. A powerful, suggestive story, it sculpts darkness from sparks of violence and finds the primal, atavistic expression of terror, one that transcends boundaries, language and time.Hero of the Nation, another disquieting story, explores the dynamics of caring for an ailing (grand)parent and how each member in the family scrabbles for air, a calming breath. Among these stories of dislocation and fragments of lives when time seems out of joint, The Discovery could have you thinking of Toba Tek Singh—Manto’s heartbreak about the madness of Partition, for it’s about a man who can’t make sense of the world as it splinters into ‘notcountries’ and ‘notwords’. The Border Song, among the lightest pieces in this collection, finds the transformative grace in grief and a closure of sorts that eludes characters in The Order of Things, a masterpiece of a story that could have you marvelling at Sidhu’s incisive and distinctive perspective for the Punjab experience of violence, exile and estrangement—both within India and abroad. Seeking in each story a ‘correct pronoun’ for our splintering selves and a ‘new grammar’ for fugitive histories, Sidhu seems to articulate Edvard Munch’s The Scream—that “infinite scream coursing through nature”, which the Norwegian expressionist sensed at sunset and painted as part of his ‘Frieze of Life’ series.
“Stories out of the box fill up Sidhu’s anthology of short stories that craft extraordinary tales out of ordinary realities. It is a treat.”