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.
'Disappointment' is a piece of flash fiction published in Issue #14 of Jet Fuel Review, a terrific literary journal run out of Lewis University in Illinois. A man and woman run into each other decades after their college years in Chicago, when they were briefly a couple. With this story, I wanted to explore, within the context of race and gender dynamics, how disappointment is a layered, complex emotion and how, often and without sufficient awareness, we tend to disappoint ourselves a whole lot more than anyone else possibly can. Of course, some of us are also often skilled in externalizing/projecting such disappointment onto others around us, especially our loved ones.
In recent weeks, President Trump’s administration announced major changes to the US immigration system. Politically, immigration in the US has always been a hornet’s nest with both the Left and the Right using conflicting arguments to suit their specific agendas at any given point in time. Brexit has highlighted how immigration has become more than a deep-rooted concern in Europe. In his essay, Reflections on Exile, Edward Said described different immigrant categories — exile, refugee, expatriate, and émigré. Whatever category an immigrant may fall into, he/she has to constantly redefine and renegotiate his/her socio-cultural and geopolitical identities. This ongoing complex, scary, and messy tussle is both personal and political and is often not explicitly understood by even the person trying to cope with it. Here is a stellar collection of short stories — by Bernard Malamud, Amy Tan, Anzia Yezierska, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Oindrila Mukherjee — revealing and highlighting exactly this dynamic.