The Red Carpet: Bangalore Stories – Lavanya Sankaran (2005)

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Another book from the TBR pile, this one is a collection of short stories revolving around characters based in (or from) Bangalore*, the “Silicon Valley” in the south of India and a mix of traditional and new ways of thinking – a “chaotic crossroads” of different classes, history and cultures (to paraphrase one reviewer on Goodreads).

Not being a huge fan of short stories (but willing to try), I had just suffered through the dreadfulness of 1940’s American wealth and Mrs. Parkington and was searching for something completely different from that. So – Indian short stories it was and what an unexpected fun read it was.

Although it may be her first published book, Sankaran is an excellent writer with a sly sense of humor that emerges in unexpected places throughout her narratives. She had previously published stories in such illustrious places as The Atlantic Monthly, and it’s obvious why they did – they’re good.

Generally speaking, I tend to get frustrated reading short stories as they seem to end too early and leave me as the reader hanging (and not in PoMo way). They just seem too short sometimes, as though they are more of a fragment of a longer unfinished work, and to be honest, there were a couple of stories like that in this volume. But as I read deeper and deeper into the collection and saw that there were subtle connections between the stories (an overlapping character, a mention of a previous place, etc.), I started to really enjoy this. (Perhaps the connectivity between the stories gave me the feeling that this was one long narrative instead of individual short stories – maybe that’s why it worked for me.)

Anyway, I really enjoyed this and if you enjoy multi-cultural reads that are extremely well written and enjoyable at the same time, you’ll enjoy this one. I’m not sure where I found this title, but thanks to whoever put it on my radar screen. Loved it.

bangalore map

• Also known as Bengaluru.

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