Hey bibliophile friends,
what are you all reading these days? 📖📚
Today’s review is of Shruti Swamy’s “A House is a Body”.
About the Book
“Swamy’s A House Is a Body will not simply be talked about as one of the greatest short story collections of the 2020s; it will change the way all stories—short and long—are told, written, and consumed. There is nothing, no emotion, no tiny morsel of memory, no touch, that this book does not take seriously. Yet, A House Is a Body might be the most fun I’ve ever had in a short story collection.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
Dreams collide with reality, modernity with antiquity, and myth with identity in the twelve arresting stories of A House Is a Body. In “Earthly Pleasures,” a young painter living alone in San Francisco begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities, and desire and ego are laid bare. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s professional crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy. And in the title story, an exhausted mother watches, hypnotized by fear, as a California wildfire approaches her home.
Immersive and assured, provocative and probing, these are stories written with the edge and precision of a knife blade. Set in the United States and India, they reveal small but intense moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.
A House Is a Body introduces a bold and original voice in fiction, from a writer at the start of a stellar career.
For a moment, I was sorry. Then I lay back into it.
Being an anthology of some memorable stories, I enjoyed this book. Written perfectly, with clever mix of romance, suspense, mystery, fear and grief, every story shines brightly on its own, without needing support from other stories. What I loved about the book is the simplicity used to describe emotions of the subjects and the simple, yet a bit tough prose used. The author pens down emotions of every single character excellently, irrespective of the role in the story.
No matter what, the story stories keep the readers on the edge of their seats with their gripping, yet simple plotting. Shuffling between US and India, the stories are a reflection of collision of dreams with reality, and modernity with antiquity, and this makes the book more enjoyable and memorable.
That time I lost some hours but not a whole day.
The stories have various themes mixed expertly, adding the seriousness and moral clarity of the characters make this book a perfect read for readers. What’s more, a story even has two women in love (sapphic relationship 🌈) – and this makes the book more amazing to read. Where the book looks a bit disturbing to the mind are the themes of sexual assault, cruelty with animals, depression, solitude. Yet, the disturbing elements of the book don’t spoil the shine of the book, instead these elements give another perspective and character to the book.
Now, I will express my views about some of the stories in the book –
- Blindness – The story of how a woman dreams about her husband’s death and then her life as a maid at her brother-in-law’s home, Blindness reflects on various angles – delusions about death, poverty, infidelity, unsettling life and solitude. Blindness is one of my favourite stories from the book.
- Mourners – The story of loss of a sister and a always crying baby form the center of the story with a couple living with the loss and mourning it everyday. The baby is the epicenter of the story, with every character of the story tending to the baby. The theme of the story is quite gloomy and dark, yet the story is quite beautiful. Also, the repeated presence of the color blue shows the clever use of hyperbole.
- My Brother at the Station – The first dark story in the book, it centers around a sister who hates her younger brother so much that she wishes for his death . But what she and other people don’t know is his ability to perceive unseen things from altogether another perspective. What I liked about it was the constant flow of hatred in the sister’s mind for her brother. I wish it could have been more clear towards the end, but nevertheless I liked it.
- The Siege – The first historical story in the book, it follows a queen, who’s bound by the decades-long patriarchal rules about the ladies’ role in kingdom. The story follows her journey as a mother, a wife, a saviour and a queen. She finds solace in her younger son and a girl in the royal gardens. Somewhere, I found this story giving me signs of a possible relationship between the queen and the girl, and I enjoyed it for this story took me on a journey of various emotions – euphoria, solitude, fear, grief, love, optimism, courage.
The stories are written so intricately, one tends to get carried away in the book. And the simplicity of the various themes makes this book an interesting & enjoyable read. The author has done an incredible job in blending simplicity, suspense and varied themes. As far as the emotional connection with the stories and characters is concerned, I connected with the characters on many aspects. Somewhere, I found myself looking as similar as some of them.
The book had no grammatical mistakes whatsoever, and the lucid writing and simple word usage makes it a smooth read for the reader. I really enjoyed the stories and loved the collision of modernity and antiquity. I enjoyed the subtle darkness the stories showed and the slow & effective actions of the characters. To be honest, I wished the book had more stories in it, for it was so amazing. Definitely recommended for a short, yet memorable reading!
A House is a Body shines brightly for writing debut of Shruti Swamy. She has done an incredible job of writing various themed stories and creatively blending a war between dreams with reality, and modernity with antiquity. I must say, you can’t miss this book at all, for you’ll miss a roller coaster ride of emotions and suspense!
Definitely, definitely, definitely recommended!! ❤️🖤
Title: A House is a Body
Author: Shruti Swamy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Rating: 10/10 ❤️
*Thank you team Algonquin Young Readers for giving me the ARC for reading.*