Blurb: The ten stories in this collection explore the unspoken dimensions of human experience, moving fluidly across the real, the seemingly unreal and the magical. Mostly located in Delhi, they give expression to the silent insecurities and aspirations of its myriad characters living in an ever-changing, multi-layered society. The range of stories captures the differing frailties, moods and impulses of human behaviour: A woman pursues a strange association with handbags, a passenger in a train encounters a forgettable past, the protagonist on his way to purchase fish has a bizarre experience in an unusual habitat, a worker in a housing complex finds himself accused of a gratuitous offence, an accidental voyeur has an unexpected encounter with a street sweeper, a construction labourer transmits his interest in car-spotting to his four-year-old son, a slap leads an adolescent to a coming-of-age experience in the hills, an office worker plays with a paper-weight on his desk while he keeps waiting for something to happen, the trajectory of the relationship of a couple closely parallels that of sparrows building a nest, the story of a lonely, elderly woman and a younger family friend takes an unanticipated turn.
About the author: Ranjan Kaul is a writer based in Delhi and is the author of the novel, Through the Forest, Darkly. He recently retired from the position of Managing Director, Oxford University Press India after a long and exciting publishing career. An MA in English Literature from the University of Delhi, he completed his B. Tech from IIT Kanpur and subsequently did a postgraduate stint in industrial design from IIT Mumbai. Apart from creative writing, he draws and paints.
Review: In a short story, every word counts. No rubbish, no excess weight with lots of freedom. I love reading short stories as it conveys containment and expansion at the same time – the idea of something compressed, yet boundless too. The current book Silent Realities by author Ranjan Kaul comes under this genre which has stories on Delhi – exploring the everyday lives of individuals from different stratum of society. These stories can make you really look at things which are otherwise ignored or not given much importance. I appreciate the author’s way of writing and his ability to tell diverse stories from different viewpoints, settings, and plots while weaving a thread through the themes really fascinated me. In every story I felt the characters coming alive as I read them. The author is an amazing writer. It just took me couple of hours to finish the book. It was a non-stop read. I loved the stories of – the insecure lover, the little girl who helps her mother steal, and the domestic servant who loves cats. I can almost guarantee that if you pick up any story in this book, you will find at least one story that speaks to you. There is an art in creating short stories — it requires a keen understanding of characterisation, ability to assess themes, and develop a strong, focused narrative with a fascinating plot in which the author has mastered and I really wish Ranjan Kaul has more stories to tell in days to come to all of us. Highly recommending.
I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.
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