My July column of short stories is up at PopMatters. This month's theme is 'refugees'. Each of these stories (all free to read online) shows a different side to the life of a refugee: despair and heartbreak, but also joy and love. Stories by these award-winning writers: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Guadalupe Nettel, Bernard Malamud, Choi Jin-young, and Mohsin Hamid. As usual, I also point out a couple of writerly things about each story from a craft perspective.
William Trevor was one of the best short story writers of his generation. Possibly in a class of his own. This posthumously-published collection, Last Stories, is beautiful because it showcases how he was one of the rare writers who write women characters well. His endings always leave thinking space for readers. And his works are best read slowly and carefully so as to not miss perfectly-timed details.
My review of a recent debut novel, The Storm by Arif Anwar, is up at PopMatters. It is a historical novel about Bangladesh. The narrative stretches from the 1940s to the 2000s and from the South Asian subcontinent to the US. The characters are of British, Japanese, Burmese, Indian, Bangladeshi, and American descent. The main historical events included are the 1942 Japanese occupation of the British colony, Burma (as Myanmar was known then), the 1946 pre-Independence Hindu-Muslim communal violence in Calcutta (as Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, was known till 2001), and the 1970 Bhola cyclone that killed 500,000 in East Bengal (as Bangladesh was first known after the 1947 India-Pakistan partition). This is a vast physical and figurative landscape with much conflict and destruction due to race, religion, and nationality. The aftermath of these seismic events is causing reverberations in the regions even today. I also have a couple of personal theories about historical fiction in general there.