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Aerogrammes: And Other Storiesby Tania James
Synopses & Reviews
From the highly acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns ("Dazzling...One of the most exciting debut novels since Zadie Smith's White Teeth" --San Francisco Chronicle),a bravura collection of short stories set in locales as varied as London, Sierra Leone, and the American Midwest that captures the yearning and dislocation of young men and women around the world.
In "Light & Luminous," a gifted instructor of Indian dance falls victim to the vanity and insecurities that have followed her into middle age. In "Tonto and the Undertaker," a widower copes with his loss by cruising Kentucky highways and burying roadkill. In "The Scriptological Review" a damaged young man obsessively studies his father's handwriting in hopes of making sense of his suicide. And in "What to Do with Henry," a white woman from Ohio takes in the illegitimate child her husband left behind in Sierra Leone, as well as an orphaned chimpanzee who comes to anchor this strange new family. With Aerogrammes, Tania James once again introduces us to a host of delicate, complicated, and beautifully realized characters who find themselves separated from their friends, families, and communities by race, pride, and grief.
"Although most of the characters in these nine immaculately crafted short stories share a common native land — Kerala in southern India — their range of emotions is brilliantly diverse. Yet they all feel adrift in an alien culture, no matter how much time they have spent in the West. James (Atlas of Unknowns) understands the nuances of emotional displacement. In the title story, retired grocer Hari Panicker has a 'hollow feeling... sitting in the fading light of a foreign room,' the retirement home where his son has consigned him. James displays a comic bent in 'The Scriptological Review,' where a nerdy American teenager, Vijay, mourns his dead father by making his mother's life miserable with his obsessive focus on producing a journal of handwriting analysis. There is poignancy in Vijay's deep-seated fear of the culture that drove his father to suicide. In the moving 'Light & Luminous' a middle-aged teacher of Indian classical dance is forced to include her ungainly, dark-skinned grandniece in a talent contest, leading her to discover that she shares the girl's misery. Only the final story, 'Girl Marries Ghost,' in which a grieving young American widow enters a lottery to marry a dead man, misses the target that the other stories unerringly hit. Agent: Nicole Aragi, the Aragi Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
TANIA JAMES was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia universities. She is the author of the novel Atlas of Unknowns and has published her work in One Story and The New York Times.
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