[Disclaimer: This review is about the first short story collection published by Grey Oak Publishers. They are already out with their second offering of the same kind, named ‘Down The Road’. We, at ‘Between The Lines’ will hopefully be out with its review soon as well. Till then, enjoy what we have in our kitty now.]
Though not the best around in terms of quality, ‘Urban Shots‘ by Grey oak Publications is undoubtedly one of the most talked about short-story collection in recent times, thanks to the viral marketing and publicity stunts by the publishers. With the new wave hitting the Indian publishing market like never before, short story collections like this brings fresh air for us voracious readers. Following the way shown by the ubiquitous Chetan Bhagat, most of the latest publications around our country are either novels with plot surrounding college-romance-based-cliches or novels mostly plotted with the IT industry as the background. A poetry collection, as I have reviewed one last week here, or a short story collection, in this scenario, is very welcome.
‘Urban Shots‘, edited by Paritosh Uttam, is a collection of ’29 urban tales by 13 writers’. Paritosh Uttam, the author of ‘Dreams in Prussion Blue’ and the writers whom he has managed to get contribution from for this book are few well-known names as well as novices in the modern Indian writing scenario. The preface is well written by Rohini Kejriwal, an aspiring writer and blogger from Pune.
Interestingly, the stories in the book have been divided into five different sections, namely Relationships, Love, Friendship, Angst and Longing. As a preparation for writing this review, I have been contemplating for few days regarding my approach to the review, and it seems reviewing it on the basis of these divided sections will be easier and at the same time, interesting enough for the readers.
I have selected the stand-outs from each section, and they are mentioned as given below:
Section 1: Relationships
Total seven stories have been included in this section, with the contribution from the likes of Kainaz Motivala, whose face adorn the cover of the book (“the ‘Wake Up Sid’s Tanya chick, you know!” – somebody introduced her to me like this), Paritosh Uttam, the editor of the collection and Ahmed Faiyaz, one of the founding members of the Grey Oak Publishers and the writer of ‘Love, Life and All that Jazz’.
Stand out number: ‘Liberation’ by Malathi Jaikumar and ‘Notes of discord’ by Paritosh Uttam.
Section 2: Love
This section consists of five stories on love, as the section title mentions.
Stand out number: ‘Serendipity’ by Paritosh Uttam
Section 3: Friendship
Total five stories have been included in this section with new names like Prateek Gupta, Kunal Dhabalia, Sahil Khan etc. contributing.
Stand out number: Not any of the ones, really.
Section 4: Angst
This section, undoubtedly, is the best of the lot. And I can go on and on about how well framed the stories are, how well portrayed the characters in each of the stories are, and how much I have liked analyzing each of them.
Stand out number(s): This lot has six stories in it, and five different writers contributing them, as a welcome change. Malathi Jaikumar comes out with yet another mind-blowing story in the form of ‘Just Average’. Other than that, Vrinda Baliga’s ‘Stick Figures’ and ‘Dialects of Silence’, editor Paritosh Uttam’s ‘A cup of tea’ and Hasmita Chander’s ‘The enlightened one’ are well mentionable.
Section 5: Longing
This is the last section of the collection, and the best story, in my opinion, comes out from this section. Total five stories from four writers are collected under this, with names like Bishwanath Ghosh, Kunal Dhabalia, Naman Saraiya etc.
Stand out number: Undoubtedly, Bishwanath Ghosh’s ‘Women in love’.
Overall impression: For us short story fanatics, this collection was a welcome change from the numerous novels of almost-the-same-plot that we go through on a daily basis. Our hats off to the Grey Oak Publishers for coming out with this idea. Also, wishing here all the best to them for the success of their second short-story collection ‘Down The Road’!
Best story of the lot:
Top three, in order, according to us:
1.‘Women in love’ by Bishwanath Ghosh
2.‘Serendipity’ by Paritosh Uttam
3.‘The enlightened one’ by Hashmita Chander
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
[N.B. Normally, the rating procedure followed by me applies for the novels, since I get to review them mostly. But with short story collections like this around the corner, we are working on devising a procedure of rating them too.]
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