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Aerogrammes : and other stories
Tania James
Adult Fiction JAMES

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Although most of the characters in these nine immaculately crafted short stories share a common native land-Kerala in southern India-their range of emotions is brilliantly diverse. Yet they all feel adrift in an alien culture, no matter how much time they have spent in the West. James (Atlas of Unknowns) understands the nuances of emotional displacement. In the title story, retired grocer Hari Panicker has a "hollow feeling... sitting in the fading light of a foreign room," the retirement home where his son has consigned him. James displays a comic bent in "The Scriptological Review," where a nerdy American teenager, Vijay, mourns his dead father by making his mother's life miserable with his obsessive focus on producing a journal of handwriting analysis. There is poignancy in Vijay's deep-seated fear of the culture that drove his father to suicide. In the moving "Light & Luminous" a middle-aged teacher of Indian classical dance is forced to include her ungainly, dark-skinned grandniece in a talent contest, leading her to discover that she shares the girl's misery. Only the final story, "Girl Marries Ghost," in which a grieving young American widow enters a lottery to marry a dead man, misses the target that the other stories unerringly hit. Agent: Nicole Aragi, the Aragi Agency. (May 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

A skilled storyteller and author of the well-received Atlas of Unknowns, James investigates with compassion and humor the indignities of aging, disability, and alienation at various stages of life. With a varied cast of insecure, shameful, sometimes obsessed characters, James takes the reader from 1910 London to present-day Sierra Leone, Kentucky, and the Midwest yet keeps her focus firmly on commonalities rather than how people are different. In the heartbreaking "What To Do with Henry," James brings together an orphaned chimpanzee, a retired teacher from Ohio, and a child from Sierra Leone fathered by her husband to form a family of sorts from their individual losses. "Ethnic Ken" is an excruciating story about a preteen who is "too old for dolls" yet is fixated on getting a Ken to go with her Barbie and mortified by her odd but kindly grandfather. The title story is set in a retirement community that has been thoroughly rejected by a newcomer, Mr. Panicker, until he is befriended by an occasionally demented woman and considers his limited alternatives. VERDICT This is a satisfying collection for lovers of short fiction from a refreshingly authentic new voice. [See Prepub Alert, 11/14/11.]-Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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