Title: Thirteen Kinds of Love
Author: Soumya Bhattacharya
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Publication Date: 25 September 2019
Genre: Fiction; Short Stories
Purchase Link: Amazon
I’m a sucker for a good love story! So, when Blogchatter gave me a choice between three books to review, I picked the one by Soumya Bhattacharya entitled “Thirteen Kinds of Love” published by Harper Collins India. Read on to know if this anthology of short stories, lives up to the mark.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Soumya Bhattacharya is the Managing Editor of Hindustan Times and a published novelist. He has five critically-acclaimed works to his name, across genres of fiction, non-fiction and memoir. He has written for established platforms like the “New York Times”, “Guardian”, “Independent”, “Sydney Morning Herald”, “Granta”, as well as contributed to several anthologies published in India and abroad.
The book is a collection of thirteen short stories, based on the lives of residents of different flats in a posh apartment complex named Imperial Heights in Bandra, Mumbai. Though their lives are entwined, each episode explores varying sides of the 4-5 unique story lines. They are written as separate short stories to be read independently.
The stories are meant to show numerous facets of love, but in reality, go far beyond to include themes of anxiety, greed, poverty, adultery and even death.
Having read a string of average and disappointing books by Indian authors in recent times, Bhattacharya’s “Thirteen Kinds of Love” felt like a breath of fresh air to me. His vocabulary is impressive, grammar faultless, character building thoughtful, and plot lines well-constructed. He successfully captures and retains the reader’s interest.
Bhattacharya’s real strength as an author lies in his characters. He creates flawed and fragile people that are easy to connect with, despite the humdrum nature of their stories. I say humdrum, for there is nothing novel about a driver’s envy of his employer’s lifestyle; the infidelity of a rich businessman that frequently travels abroad; the sudden attraction a widow feels for her new neighbour; the untimely death of an anxiety-ridden inveterate corporate climber. These stories have been told numerous times before, yet Bhattacharya breathes life into them through his well-etched protagonists.
A few of the stories are a tad dramatic and could have been dispensed with, such as the insinuated rape of a young girl. In my opinion, the excessive melodrama doesn’t fit with the tone of the other stories.
Overall, I was most impressed with Bhattacharya’s creativity. He has penned thirteen stories, most of them numbering thirteen pages. Instead of grouping connected stories together, he has arranged them in a random sequence, which makes them more interesting. He is a talented and gifted writer, and I particularly enjoyed his take on the flurry of sub-standard writers publishing (or printing!) books these days, mentioned in one of the stories. Echoing his thoughts, I feel that it takes a lot more than language skills to write well- one must have creative ability as well. Bhattacharya has plenty of that.
The story lines are predictable and lack the ingenuity that could have made this a great book, but still make for easy and pleasurable reading. I recommend this book to people who appreciate good writing, and enjoy reading works of fiction set in modern Indian urban landscapes. The short length and easy readability of the stories will appeal to` bibliophiles constantly on the move.
Reviewed as part of the Blogchatter book review program
*I’d like to thank Blogchatter and Harper Collins India for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. The post is not sponsored, but it contains affiliate links. When you purchase a copy of the book through my link, I earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Please support my blog by purchasing through my link!
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