An interview with the last speaker of a language. A chronicle of the final seven days of a town that is about to be razed to the ground by an invading army. The lonely voyage of an elephant from Kerala to a princess’s palace in Morocco. A fabled cook who flavours his food with precious stones. A coterie of international diplomats trapped in near-earth orbit. These, and the other stories in this collection, reveal an extraordinary storyteller, whose tales emerge from a tradition that includes the creators of the Arabian Nights and the Kathasaritsagara, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Angela Carter and other ancient and modern masters of fabulist, surrealist and magical short stories. Furiously inventive, beautifully crafted and remarkably assured, Swimmer Among the Stars announces the arrival of a blazing new talent.
REVIEW : This was an absolute delight to read. For the most part. as with all collections, be it short story or poetry, there will always be a few favourites and a few not so favourites and this was no different. Luckily, I found that the number of favourites largely outweighed the latter.
Now, surreal books aren’t really everyone cup of tea but do give this one a go. The stories are engaging, more deep that it looks originally, and more interesting that you’d imagine from the get go. The first story, Elephant At Sea, tells the story of an elephant that’s being shipped halfway across the earth to cater to the demands a princess made when she was little. The second is about the magical powers of the eyelash and the title story and my favourite, is about a dying language and Linguists who are attempting an interview with the last official speaker to capture all that they can before she dies herself.
Kanishk Tharoor is a very talented writer and he’s shown that off well in this book. I found his writing style lyrical and rhythmic making it an absolute pleasure to just pick this up and flip through reading one story at a time and cherishing it. In fact, a few of these stories were read out loud to my family and they are now in queue to read it. The author’s knowledge base seems to be large and well spread with influences from all over the place, Arab stories, Asian settings and, well, outer space!
Of course, I tried to read this for Dewey’s 24 hour readathon and that was a big mistake. These stories aren’t meant to be rushed through, they’re meant to be sipped bit by bit and then thought about, remembered and then, only then, is the reader to go to the next. Pick up this book as soon as you can. This isn’t one you’ll want to return to the library.
I was sent this by the publisher by my opinions are completely my own.