Friday 8 July 2016

Love Across A Broken Map by The Whole Kahani

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:
Love Across a Broken Map, as the title suggests, is a collection of stories where, for one reason or another, love fails, or fragments or misses its target.

The anthology has been put together by The Whole Kahani, a collective of British fiction writers of South Asian origin.

It opens with the exquisitely written ‘Watermelon Seeds’ by CG Menon, where the friendship of two schoolgirls – one Tamil and one Cantonese – is tripped up by their first taste of love.

The stories then take us on a meandering path around the world and through the shades of human experience. We step into the shoes of a high-class gigolo who makes the mistake of falling in love with a client, and a married woman meeting a man whose mistress she was many years ago. We encounter twin sisters who are rivals for the same man, a lesbian who uses her Staffordshire terrier as a barrier to keep out the world, and two people who are together only because they each had a mother who committed suicide. We experience domestic violence, and the obsessive love of the fan.

In ‘Entwined Destinies’ by Shabani Lal, the story father and daughter has the tragic symmetry of O. Henry’s classic ‘Gift of the Magi.’ Farrah Yusuf’s final story, ‘By Hand,’ encapsulates the loneliness of modern urban life.

This is a collection full of regret and missed opportunities. But the writing is too beautiful for the cumulative effect to be depressing. The stories surprise, unsettle, but enchant too. Once or twice, in the most unlikely circumstances, we are offered hope that love can make it across the fissures of the broken map.

The ten authors whose stories make up the collection are all new to me, but I will be looking out for more from each of them.

The Whole Kahani is a collective of British fiction writers of South Asian origin. The group was formed in 2011 to provide a creative perspective that straddles cultures and boundaries both emotional and geographical. Its aim is to give a new voice to old stories and increase the visibility of South Asian writers in Britain.

Farhana Shaikh interviews some of the authors for The Asian Writer about the inspiration for their stories here.

You'll Enjoy This If You Loved: Brick Walls by Saadia Faruqi;  Spilling the Beans by Just Write

Avoid If You Dislike: Sad love stories

Perfect Accompaniment: A cup of Lapsang Suchong tea

Genre: Short Stories

Available on Amazon

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