My review of Akil Kumarasamy’s debut short story collection is now up at PopMatters. It is an interlinked set of short stories, so I also talk a bit about how such collections work.
Kumarasamy gives us the painful fragments of these characters’ experiences with care as if she is handing us shards of broken glass. Her language is specific and precise in showing how they respond to their worlds like wounded animals whose ancient, primal fears are triggered easily beyond their own comprehension. There are some startling and fresh metaphors and similes (e.g., “he would lift his belly like a dress.”) Scenes and settings are drawn with close, attentive brushstrokes. Relevant historical facts about Sri Lanka’s long, bloody civil war are woven into plots and subplots thoughtfully.
Assiduously, Kumarasamy avoids the traditional tales of assimilation and identity conflicts that many other writers would have taken here. Going beyond those aspects, her gaze focuses more on the underlying and long-lasting patterns that occur in the lives of people who have been uprooted and transplanted and how they, in turn, affect the lives of others.
And yet, there’s something about these stories that doesn’t come together with the potency that, given the subject matter, one might expect.
Read the complete review at PopMatters.