"Aerogrammes: And Other Stories" by Tania James
Knopf, $24.00
Published on May 15, 2012

What is it about?

It is a book of short stories featuring Indian immigrants in different cities that, according to its blurb, "captures the yearning and dislocation of young men and women around the world."

Why are we talking about it?

We love Indian literature, and the cover was so simple, beautiful and striking that we couldn't help but pick it up.

Who wrote it?

Tania James in also the author of "Atlas of Unknowns" (Junot Diaz called it "an astonishment of a debut"), and her fiction has appeared in Granta, The Boston Review, One Story, The Kenyon Review, and A Public Space.

Who will read it?

Any fans of James's previous work, fans of postcolonial Indian literature (Salman Rushdie, Aravind Adiga, Arundhati Roy)

What do the reviewers say?

San Francisco Gate: "James' prose is clean, deep, limpid; the stories she builds throw strange, beautiful light on completely unexpected places."

Publishers Weekly: "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."

Kirkus Review: "At every turn, James’ prose is crisp, observant and carefully controlled; unlike the narrator of 'Escape Key,' who grows increasingly aware of his fiction’s shortcomings, James projects a deep emotional intelligence."

Impress your friends:

In 2010, the U.S. state with the highest number of Indian immigrants was California. They have 528,176 people who identify as Asian Indian. The lowest was Wyoming, with 589.

Opening line:

"The Sensation of the Wrestling World Exclusive Engagement of India's Catch-as-Catch-Can Champions."

Notable passage:

"That year, thousands entered the lottery for only a handful of husbands. Of the handful, very few could remember what had happened after they departed. One husband could recall only a smell: the stogie-scented leather of his father's Lincoln. Another had been strangled in an endless bed of his ex-wife's daffodils, and whenever he yanked a flower, two more plants unfurled in its place. Was it heaven through which they had passed, or some flavorless part of limbo? There was no one to ask, and gradually the question lost its novelty, eclipsed by the more pressing question of who among the living would land a ghost husband."


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