First off, I love short stories. They’re one of my favorite genres, so I don’t really get when people review short story collections on Goodreads but start out by saying that they’re not really fans of the genre. I’m excited to read any short story collection but especially one from a promising new writer. However, for some reason, this book didn’t really connect with me.
I’ll start with the things I loved: Shruti Swamy’s voice infuses Indian culture into her writing in a really natural and organic way. Some of the customs, foods, beliefs, etc. are all weaved into the stories seamlessly. The stories (even when they weren’t specifically set in India) had characters with a unique point of view and perspective. I also loved that Swamy’s characters feature strong women who are seeking to find meaning or purpose in their life. Swamy has a beautiful, lyrical flow to her prose that is a treat to explore.
But instead of connecting with her characters, I often felt like each story ended abruptly. I know some short story writers do this to leave the reader wanting more. But, for me, each story felt like too short of a window into someone’s life for me to really understand them or tap into their perspective. Instead of feeling satisfied at the end of each story, I had a general feeling of apathy and frustration. I couldn’t quite figure out why Swami had bothered telling that character’s story at all.
I wanted to love this collection and there were a few stories that I felt if they had been expanded on would have been truly wonderful. For example, in “Earthly Pleasures,” the main character falls in love with a Hindu god come to life named Krishna. The inclusion of a touch of magical realism made this story my favorite by far – I wish more of the stories had this element of fantasy in them.
We need more books published by women and people of color, so I might be checking out her work in the future to support a clearly talented writer. But I probably won’t be raving about this one.
*Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review*