Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Star on the IWE horizon

I have been following the activities of this group, Unisun Publishers, which is doing its bit to promote new writing talent. Picked up this week their anthology of short stories called, what else, Winners, a compilation of the prize-winning short stories in a contest conducted last year. While the book title may not be very imaginative, one of the new authors I read here was just so good that I thought I need to post on her.

This is Jaya Madhavan, with her short story ‘The Monarch Butterfly’ winning the second prize. It is a truly well written story with the relationships inside a family revealed in all their complexity. There is no black and white here, only the grays of doubt, self-questioning, un-fulfillment, and perhaps the pain of too much love. The narrative is in the first person, which sometimes can get boring if, it blocks out other perspectives, but in the case Jaya Madhavan manages to keep a fine balance between all the characters. Its also a great look into a typical Tamilian household , and a not so complimentary look at the typical Tamil ‘Man’ of the 60s/70s if there is such a specimen – very proper, and as she says, very boring. Well, I suppose there is some stereotyping there, but my personal experience tells me that she is not too far off. Turns out Jaya is no stranger to fiction, her past forays into children’s writing already having seen the light of day.

I am surprised actually that this one didn’t win the first prize. The first prize winning entry, “The Splendour of a Hundred Thousand suns” I thought was feeble in comparison. The concept of an IISC scientist invoking a secret incantation to keep her man back in India seemed anachronistic.

In any case, at Rs. 125, this book is definitely worth reading, for those of you who may want to read some new Indian English writing.