The one-liner that explains the collection is ’12 memorable stories from India.’ Of course, Aleph Book Company has in mind the vast global readership that awaits impatiently the works of literature on and from India. However, the important part of the one-liner that I find particularly apt in this case is ‘memorable.’ That one word explains what this collection is all about. Tell me a long, long story is a collection of 12 long stories by Indian authors with a background in various regional language literatures. All the stories that appear in this collection are translated works with one exception.
The authors that appear in this long collection have already marked their indelible space in the field of literary art in India. What Tell me a long, long story essentially does is to bring together a group of highly skilled translators. By bringing together these talented translators, the denominator is set for a progressive movement in Indian writings in English that identifies not just original works in the languages they are written, but also of the agency that operates in the realm of translating those works for a global English-speaking audience.
Writers like Mahasweta Devi, Chetan Raj Shrestha, Nirmal Verma, Bolawar Mahamad Kunhi, Habib Kamran, K R Meera, Shripad Narayan Pendse, Kamalakanta Mohapatra, Waryam Singh Sandhu, Gopikrishnan, Kolakaluri Enoch, and Ismat Chughtai appear in this collection. All stories except “The King’s Harvest” by Chetan Raj Shrestha are translations.
Tell me a long, long story is edited by Mini Krishnan, editor at Oxford University Press and Consultant Editor of the translation programme of the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur. In the “Editor’s Note” Mini Krishnan discusses another key factor that Tell me a long, long story shines on the map of Indian literary scene. This volume brings to the focus the ‘long story’. In the essay “The Long Short” that operates as the preface to the collection, Mini Krishnan elaborates on the significance of the long story as opposed to the short story and novel. “While the novel depends on the proper development of characters, the short story allows no time for a slow unfurling” (xiii). The long story sits between the two forms of literary art.
For this reason, I would strongly recommend this book to any aspiring writer. The long story is a genre that could help develop the writerly voice in an early stage of the career. Writing long would certainly help readers resonate deep with the characters and the narrative voice of the text. The advantage of long stories is that they are neither too short to take too much attention of the craft, sentences, and economy of words. it’s neither too long to lose sight of the events that are to follow in the narrative.
The stories in the collection are a mixture of fantasy, myth, and realism. They are imbued with a sense of indigenous culture that could be felt as a pulsating organic matter. “Koili’s black tresses were outlined in the moonlight. Her shadow fell on me, covering my entire body as if swallowing me whole. I fought not to faint” (220) writes Kamalakanta Mohapatra in The Witch, my personal favourite from the collection.
The dark beautiful tresses of words and the smell of cream paper would fill the senses as one opens the cover of the book. Tell me a long, long story has a beautiful cover that attests the reversal to the myth that it’s all right to judge a book by its cover.
Reviewed by : Anu Lal
Author(s): Mini Krishnan
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Release: September 2017
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
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