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Pilot Projects

Despite its grating unevenness, what redeems this collection is the presence of some new and superbly exciting voices.

Pilot Projects
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
21 under 40: New Stories for A New Generation
By Edited By Anita Roy
Zubaan Pages: 200; Rs 295
The best thing about an anthology is you’ll stumble upon at least three pieces you like. Despite its grating unevenness, what redeems this collection is the presence of some new and superbly exciting voices. If Something Special about Sayyida by Shahnaz Habib has you chortling, The Third Cloud by Narmada Thirangama evokes a sadness and the Ferris Wheel by Diana Romany an incredulous horror. As for the Large Girl by Mridula Koshy, it catches one by surprise for its restraint and passion.

There’s room here for new techniques—a graphic short story, e-mails, chat rooms—but eventually what works best are the stories with a narrative. Ipsita Halder has brilliant asides in her graphic Rainy Days of Vaidehi but the storyline itself seldom rises above the "comfort of meeting the same stupid people".

Occasionally the writing as in Nisha Susan’s Broadband and the Bookslut or Tishani Doshi’s Spartacus and the Dancing Man glitters. But when you read 21 writers, what lingers are the story and characterisation, not pretty phrases. Paromita Chakravarthi’s satirical, well-written Instant Honeymoon sums up the anthology for me. Like the pilot episode for a TV series, most stories read like first chapters of a novel. Surely the short story deserves better!

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