Translated From the Gibberish, by Anosh Irani. Book report #23 (2020)

Translated from the Gibberish, by Anosh Irani. Pub 2019

I recognized the author’s name as the playwright of something I’d seen years ago (the play was The Matka King). I was intrigued by the jacket description, so added this to the tsundoku back in January and took it along on vacation.

Irani’s book consists of six short stories, bracketed by two semi-memoirs about his own visit home to Bombay and his struggles with depression, isolation, and writing. The stories are better than the memoir bits, bringing colourful and tragic characters to life. Irani descriptions and narratives are good, and the twists in the tales are often surprising, if the outcomes predictable. The best stories were:

  • Behind the Moon, about an illegal immigrant in Vancouver and his participation in a cricket match.
  • The Treasury of Sweetness, about a new immigrant in Vancouver, his sweet shop, and his new friend.

While I enjoyed the short stories, they felt somewhat derivative of the superior stories by Rohinton Mistry (especially A Fine Balance). None of the stories has a happy ending, and some are downright dispiriting, as tragic souls trying to find happiness are beaten by life’s tyrannical systems and forced to submit to their place in the world. Like with Mistry’s stories, the lesson is: no matter how hard you work or how good/smart you are, you cannot change your dismal place in life, any brightness will be swiftly blackened, and there is no such thing as justice.

Fate: charity shop. If I want depressing tales of life in India and/or of Indians in Canada, I’ll read Mistry again.

3 – a book published in 2019
17 – a book of short stories
24 – a book by an author whom you’ve never read

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