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Showing posts from February, 2002

REVIEW: Death of Vishnu

The Death of Vishnu
The Kathmandu Post, February 24, 2002
By Sushma Joshi

A man lies dying on the stairwell of a crumbling tenement house in Bombay. The twisted plot of The Death of Vishnu, mathematics professor Manil Suri’s creation, originates out of that, spiraling like a stairway into social realism and the myths of Bollywood. Drawing from the non-linear genre of Bombay film scripts, and the hyper-linked, multi-plot structure of Hindu mythology, the story works its way slowly but inevitably into the unforgiving politics of religious violence and communalism that dominates the politics of contemporary India.

While Vishnu lies delirious, in the throes of his last sexual fantasies before death, two Hindu neighbors play out their day to day rivalries and petty jealousies on his dying body, quarreling over who should pay for the ambulance. This middle class struggle is just another in a long tradition of jealousies and fights in their shared kitchen. Their husbands, meanwhile, ineffectuall…

REVIEW: Bitter Gourds Short Story Collection

THE BITTER TRUTH Sushma Joshi, February 2002, Kathmandu Post The stories are small, but with a spicy aftertaste that could be from nowhere else but the subcontinent. Talat Abbasi's Bitter Gourd and Other Stories is a collection of nugget sized, delectable tales laid out, in typical desi fashion, amongst the detritus of social stratification, family ennui, economic marginalization and diaspora. Gently dousing her stories with a generous portion of irony and satire, the Karachi born writer brings to the fore the small hypocrisies and the mundane corruptions of everyday life in Pakistan. Whether dealing with a birdman or a poor relation, a rich widow or an immigrant mother, Ms. Abbasi touches the mythic heart that ticks besides all these caricatures. The ghostly narrative influence of Virginia Woolf, with a pinch of Victorian lit thrown in for good measure, is discernable, although most of the voices are centered around the "how kind, how kind" echoes of South Asia.
The book…