Skip to main content

Book Review: Parting of the Strangers and Other Stories by Sattam Dasgupta

How do you test the brilliance of an author, especially new one? By reading a lengthy novel or an anthology? If we had to do this, we would pick up a collection of short stories. Because in a novel an author gets plenty of time to build, to rake-up, to dredge-up and play around the characters. However, in the matter of short stories one has to build the backdrop, describe the characters along with their peculiarities and eccentricities, and then narrate a tale that should sound exactly riveting, that too all within a limited time frame. Isn’t a challenging proposition? If we had to consider these many aspects, we would not shy away to say that Sattam Dasgupta is another natural born storyteller. Recently he published his first book, Parting of the Strangers and Other Stories - a collection of sixteen short stories.

Many of his stories emanate from the Indian society that we often come across in neighborhood, social gathering, and at times in pub or bar. Combined all we found them all convincingly impressive and every story left us reeling with a feeling of wanting to know more. The prominent aspect of this collection is to scrutinize the dynamics that alter the dimensions of human relationships. Before picking up this collection, you may ask yourself that why do human relations change, for what reasons? And you may find almost all reasons here.

The first story – Receding Shoreline – is about a couple, married for seven years. They are waiting for a friend named Sinjan at a dinner in a ritzy restaurant. When their friend turns up, the spirit of having a simple dinner together turns into strange shock. Akansha, the narrator’s wife, takes the side of Sinjan to enjoy the precious asset of her life: freedom. The couple is poles apart when it comes to preferences and way of life but they are together for seven years. Can a prosaic engineer keep his wife happy and free who happens to come from a creative marketing professional? Find yourself.

The second story that we see is crisp on relationship angle, Swaha and the narrator are friends for a long time. When they met, they were young and headstrong for their careers. They got married to different persons and hold different family lives; still remain friends from corporate offices to personal corridors. They, as both families, meet often, party together, and even go for vacations. Well, the day Swaha breaks news of her pregnancy, a dark and silent realization dawns upon both. Were they meant for each other, if so, then why didn’t they marry? It’s really tough to find a meaning from the wreckage of the past. In this story, it is little tough to decipher the hidden reason.

The third story is the title story: Parting of the Strangers. This is the most fascinating story in the entire collection. The author has balanced this story with a marvelous élan and truly explored ‘what is being a stranger’. In the maddening traffic of Bangalore, every evening the narrator looks forward to find a familiar red car to exchange eye contact and have a silent conversation with a young lady whom he calls, in his mind, Nayna because her eyes are beautiful. They feel connected but remain strangers.

Other than stand-alone stories, you will also come across interconnected stories with similar sets of characters. For instance, we have Gedanken Experiment, Continental Spread, Green Tea in Bone China, these stories feature Rahul, Aditi and Ria, and the stories are profoundly based on relationship i.e. how with time or circumstances people tend to change. Do people look for selfishness even in the deepest relationships? You may feel bad for Rahul as he first tests his relationship with his girlfriend Aditi through Gedanken Experiment and then we see he is caring about her sister Ria whose life has been changed completely post a car accident. In some of the stories, the author has put in great attention to detail for ambience and didn’t hesitate to include auxiliary characters like waiters in the storyline, for example in the first story we see Joseph and then in these three connected stories we have Venkat.

Other than human behavior and relationship stories, we also see some stories with paranormal twists, like Everyone Needs Closure, Flatliners, and No Time for a Joke. Without giving away much we can conclude that this collection is riveting.  Unexpected endings will keep you glued and fueled, specially the set of connected stories. A medley of sixteen intricate and befuddling stories. Gracefully knitted, well-presented, quick-reads, charming flow of writing. With a mélange of real-life inspired stories and fiction, they will leave you guessing.


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

Binya is a poor little girl living with her mother and an elder brother, Bijju, in a very small hilly village of Garhwal. One day while herding her two cows back home, she stumbles upon some city people enjoying the picnic in the valley. She is enthralled to see them rich and well-groomed. She craves to be one like them and among many other things of their, a blue frilly umbrella catches her attention. She begins craving for it. On the other hand, the city people get attracted by her innocent beauty and the pendant in her neck. The pendant consists of leopard’s claw – which is considered a mascot widely in the hills. Binya trades her pendant off with the blue umbrella.

The blue umbrella is so much beautiful that soon it becomes a topic of conversation for villagers and children adore her umbrella so much that every time they feel like to touch or hold it. Binya is on seventh heaven and rarely closes it because she believes it looks charming when it is opened.
Ram Bharosa runs a smal…

Poem Summary: The Tale of Melon City by Vikram Seth

The Tale of Melon City by Vikram Seth is a humorous poem about a king who is just opposite the terms ‘just and placid’. Rather the king is excited about everything in his kingdom.

The poem is about one hasty decision of king that costs him his life. He orders to build an arch from where he can instruct the spectators. Well, the construction of the arch goes awry, as when the king stands, the arch being built too low, it touches the crown and as a result it falls down. Falling of the crown is a matter of insult for the king, thus he orders to hang the chief of the builders. Noose and gallows are prepared. The crowd is ready to witness the convict go lifeless. But just in time the chief of builder blames the workmen for fault. Next the workmen are taken to the death penalty; they too cry aloud saying that this is the mistake of a mason. The mason is then put next for the death punishment; well he passes the blame on the architecture. Well, the architecture being a clever guy says that …

Story Summary: The Accidental Tourist by Bill Bryson

The Accidental Tourist by Bill Bryson is a short story that highlights the importance of having suave and elegant manners at the time of travelling. In this story, we see that the narrator almost flies over 100,000 miles every year because of his job’s nature. So, we can say that the narrator is an accidental tourist, though he doesn’t enjoy travelling but still he has to because of his job. However in his own words he says that he is sort of a confused man who often forgets the roads and gets into wrong alleys or gets trapped into self-locking doors. In this story, he takes us to some of his awry travel experiences where he did some crazy things, though unwittingly.
Most of his experiences are based around airports or inside the flights. On one instant, while flying to England from Boston with family for Christmas, he forcibly opened the zip of his bag, as a result it broke down and all the stuff littered on the ground. This made him embarrassed and the people around him.
One day in…