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Book Review: Mumblings from the Depth by Jithu Biji Thomas

Mumblings from the Depth by Jithu Biji Thomas is as riveting collection of twenty one short stories. The collection has indeed short stories, running hardly up to 4 pages. A lot has been uncovered in this book about various shades of life via a gamut of characters and their grim and tender circumstances. The author made a desperate attempt to bring alive the voices that often lump up till throat but always scared to go out ringing.

The collection is prominent in voicing the concerns of people who are often lost in memory lanes – there is something that we all long to correct and hope to get back by hook or crook. For instances, in stories like ‘Will That Same Rain Fall Again’ – the narrator seeks to have his legs back lost in a long forgotten war but more than that he longs for a girl that used to sell flowers beneath his window during rain. The ending is heartbreaking; the tragedy of incidents is somehow uncomfortable. Other prominent themes in the book are loss, love, redemption, fear, nature, reminisces and a few more.

You may sigh in appreciation for the author at some of the stories while reading, such as Beck…Beck…Seven Minutes, and The prisoner Without a Jail. In these stories, it seems like a canvass of emotions have been painted with judicious use of vocabulary and language usage. The collection spans across various timelines, like a free fly bird, it visits Iraq, Syria, Japan, and Germany and there are stories related to Nazis trampling innocent Jews, a family fleeing the war-torn homeland in search of life in the darkness of an ocean, a Japanese person surviving the Titanic sink.

Jithu Thomas may revoke the memories of great writers like O. Henry and Oscar Wilde among the voracious and old readers. Nearly all stories are good at capturing the sense of moment and stirring a feeling of awe. His style to put a short prose before every story is terrific and helps a lot in understanding the overall tone and feel of the stories. It’s a heartfelt collection that can be read over and again. The USP is that it’s too short to finish in one sitting without bothering about breaks.

Thomas’ style is elegant with carefully crafted sentences and precision in vocabulary. All the stories are bliss to read if one is a lover of short story genre. The themes are sometimes morbid and full of evident pain, but the authorial voice always comes with empathy and compassion. To write about the awkward and the bizarre and the sad without slipping into easy criticism or mockery is what makes ‘Mumblings from the Depth’ a unique short story collection in its genre. There are no redundant cheap shots disguised as twists and turns in the end. These stories observe the trials of life with a great deal of softness and it speaks to the humanity in all of us.

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