Hi !! I wanted to ask if you have any recommendation on short stories ? Specially food related . I barely read short stories tbh . Aside from Rabindranath tagore's ' Galpaguchchha ' I have zero reading experience on short stories. 🖤
I wasn't sure how to go about this ask, since I felt you were maybe asking me for Bengali reading recs. So here are some of my favourite shory story collections in Bengali:
Rajkahini by Abanindranath Tagore: to be honest, it's built like a novel comprising several chapters, each dealing with a different historical/quasi-mythical figure from Rajasthani history. But to me it reads very much like a collection of very descriptive, very immersive short folk/historical stories.
Ek Dojon Goppo and Aro Ek Dojon by Satyajit Ray: a mix of horror, SciFi, pure psychological mind games, and satire. I urge you to read the untranslated Bengali version because so much of Ray's sparkling wit is lost in translation.
Short Stories by Rabindranath Tagore: You've mentioned Galpaguchcha but if one wants a headway into the classics then I suggest his 1918 version which includes the most beloved ones like The Postmaster, The Kabuliwala etc. I have always preferred Tagore's shorter works to his novels personally.
Parashuram (Rajshekhar Basu) has written some extremely funny stories which are typically and ridiculously Bengali in their appeal. I recommend Birinchi Baba (where a group of young adults try to expose a fraud baba) and Bhusundir Math (guy with a nagging wife makes an unfortunate deal with goddess Kali). Once again, read the Bengali editions!
Stories by Ashapurna Devi typically deal with refugee crises, feminism and rural Bengal. Admittedly she is more famous for her Subarnalata trilogy but even her shorter work is so good.
other short story recommendations:
Road to the Bazaar (Ruskin Bond): charming collection of tales centred around children growing up in the Gharwal region of North India. Includes nighttime trains, beetle races, secret gardens and the typical Bond-esque desi Ghibli charm. Anything by Bond should be a good place to start actually, I believe the Best of Ruskin Bond collection has amazing short stories and travel essays, many of which include sumptuous descriptions of food.
The Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri): putting this here to purposely spite the people who accuse me of "prioritising diasporic authors like Lahiri" I'm so sorry I should find comfort in the works of Bengali authors. This collection is gorgeous, stories about Bengalis in India, Bangladesh and Boston (the last being where the author grew up) and stands out for the amazing portrayal of messy, complicated relationships, cultural identity issues and an amazing cast of characters. [Food related stories: A Temporary Matter, Mrs. Sen, When Mr Pirzada Came To Dine; food and cooking is extremely important to Bengali culture and these stories are fantastic at exploring this].
The Short Stories (Guy de Maupassant): don't @ me but I think Maupassant >>>>>> O. Henry and Saki, and I'm not just saying that as he was the first short story author I ever read. His stories aren't always reliant on twist endings or sudden reversals, but it's the way he studies the ugly and beautiful sides of human nature and the way he describes horrifically tragic scenarios with a kind of beauty that I feel Henry and Saki lack. [Food related stories: Boule de Suif (rather horrifying symbolism), Two Little Soldiers, Mademoiselle Pearl (set against a feast and cake-cutting ceremony)]
Her Body and Other Parties (Carmen Maria Manchado): grotesque, brilliantly written stories that combines the feminist narrative with the surreal, the experimental and the quasi-horror. It does have a lot of triggers (Manchado's works do usually, I recommend looking them up) and not all the stories have the same impact, but it's still a great collection. [ Cooking and food figure in certain stories like The Husband Stitch and Eight Bites but the implications are not always of comfort and warmth, be cautious. ]
Friends in Small Places (Ruskin Bond): this one is basically if you read the one above and get depressed. One more Ruskin Bond!! This collection includes personal anecdotes and fictional short pieces about people who are seemingly unimportant but have impacted the writer/the narrator greatly due to a variety of reasons, a dawdling uncle, an ex schoolteacher, a vegetable vendor, a kite-maker. Often funny, and equally often poignant. [ Food related stories: Uncle Ken, Uncle Bill, Prem. Look for more in his Best of collections. ]
On my TBR:
Hungry Hearts: I feel you would really enjoy this one, as you mentioned stories of food! It's an anthology set in a fictional street called Hungry Heart Row, each story centred around food and cooking in some way. Contributing authors include Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon and Elise Chapman among others.
Mohanaswamy (Vasudendhra): a gay man in Karnataka reminisces about his experiences after his partner marries a woman. I keep hearing mixed reviews about this short story collection, some people praise it as a nuanced portrayal of homosexuality in rural India but others say the translation (from Kannada to English) is poor and the depiction falls flat. I guess I'll let you know once I read it.
The Adivasi will Not Dance (Hansda S. Shekhar): ever since I heard of this collection I've been wanting to purchase it, and now that my exam is over I will definitely read it. It's mostly centred around the Santhal community in Jharkhand, and deals with issues like religious riots, class privilege and the treatment of Santhali women. The author also wrote the beautiful "My Father's Garden" I'm sure you've seen this novel in multiple south asian queer literature recs.
I hope these help. I have other food related fictional recommendations but most of those are novels, so this is all I can think of.
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