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Book: India Unlimited- Stories from a nation caught between hype & hope
Author: Kulpreet Yadav
Genre: Fiction/Short stories
Cover price: Rs 190
Rating: 3 out of 5
Review: ‘India Unlimited’ is an anthology of 31 short stories. They are slightly shorter than a conventional short story and slightly longer than a flash fiction. Most of them are around 3-4 pages long and hence make for a 5-10 minute read, depending on your speed. So, those who are looking for a light read can pursue a story during TV ads or between two WWE matches or while sitting on the breakfast table waiting for the steaming coffee to cool down.
Author Kulpreet Yadav is erudite and has got featured in several literary magazines and journals. His stories are based in India and portray the lives of simple people and revolve around simple incidents. Though the book is a work of fiction, it borrows almost entirely from personal incidents, anecdotes and author’s own observation which admittedly is sharp as that of a Holmes or a Poirot.
So, these 31 stories talk of beggars, lovers, estranged couples, peanut sellers, thugs, mothers and brothers. To the credit of the author, the stories have been written in different formats. Some are penned in third person while some in first person, some in past tense, while some in present tense, and some are dreams while some are mere soliloquies.
The language is simple but powerful. A discerning reader will easily figure out that the author can play with words deftly and can provide almost surreal amount of detailing.
On the downside, the stories are too simple and some of them lack any substantial plot or any gripping material to give the reader the thrill or surprise which he may expect of a short story.
One of the best stories is ‘The Saree Shop at Alwar’ (my rating for it is 4). This tale, in all probability, is the outcome of the author’s observation of the behavior of the hard-to-please Indian women and the I-must-lure-her-to-buy kind of saree shop owners.
Here is an excerpt from this story:
The old man is smiling and now there’s a pause. Everyone’s looking at my wife. I look at her too. She, very gently, perhaps without knowing it herself, moves her head suggesting a no.
The old man beams and declares, ‘I knew this wouldn’t be your taste. Let me show you something that arrived this morning which is yet to be included in our stock’. …….
I know the lie- which is far too obvious- but my wife’s eyes have slightly brightened.
‘A pocketful of memories’ is another light, short and heart-warming tale about forlorn childhood crush and some native memories. The story won’t exactly give you a lump in the throat but will surely touch a cord within (My rating is 3)
‘The Blind Date’ has been written in a tone of narration which suits the theme of the story. The climax offers surprise, though it leaves the readers with more questions than answers. (My rating is 3).
‘I and Sonia’ (my rating 2.5) is a story without any plot and relying solely on narration. Quirkily simple and innocent but falls short of being a good story.
Stories which I have rated 4
1. The Saree Shop at Alwar
Stories which I have rated 3.5
1. A familiar stranger
2. The fish and my wedding
3. The Family of stars
4. The Pickle seller
5. Faking it at the conference
6. The beautiful people
7. The pickle seller
8. The everyday lover
9. The dream girl who loved me
10. The picture of my life
Stories which I have rated 3
1. Not the only Peanut seller who hasn’t heard of Osama Bin Laden
2. A pocketful of memories
3. The mother with a future
4. Tell me if I am dead or is this a beautiful dream?
5. The sahib and the siesta
6. Bringing sunset home
7. Samir in Rain
8. The shadow of tomorrow
9. The blind date
10. The Delhi thug
11. Rahul won’t dream again
12. The naughty Celina I miss sometimes
13. A hard day’s night
Stories which I have rated 2.5
1. The city of mirrors
2. The Spy Tuesday
3. I and Sonia
4. The temple luck
5. The rum base
6. The Red Woman
Stories which I have rated 2
1. The Holy assassin
2. The particle don and the desert
Verdict: It is a good book but falls short of being a great book. Some stories border around greatness while some are bland and disengaging. You can buy the book from Flipkart at great discounts here.
[This book has been reviewed on personal request from author Kulpreet Yadav.]