Thursday, January 18, 2018

Boo – edited by Shinie Antony: book review

Boo – edited by Shinie Antony
--reviewed by Divya Dubey

[Published in India Today mag, Nov 19, 2017:]

Not all ghost stories are horrifying. But they do instantly create an element of suspense and anticipation in the reader that no other genre does as easily. Since India has had a long tradition of paranormal tales of every kind – both oral and written forms – right from olden times, creating something com
pletely new is a much more challenging task for contemporary writers.

In Shinie Antony’s anthology, Boo: 13 Stories that will Send a Chill Down Your Spine, a combo of new and known writers, most of whom have not experimented with this genre before, try their hand at it. The consequent collection, therefore, is a superb amalgam of traditional and modern forms of storytelling with some unexpected twists. And then there is Shashi Deshpan
de’s ‘mythofiction’, with Krishna reflecting upon war, death, destruction and his role in the battle of the Mahabharata after the  fact – a story that perhaps falls somewhere in between the two sub-genres.

Shinie Antony
The ‘traditional’ stories such as Manabendra Upadhyay’s ‘The Face’ (trans. By Arunava Sinha), Madhavi S Mahadevan’s ‘The Tiger Lady of Kabul’, Kiran Manral’s ‘Birth Night’ or Durjoy Datta’s ‘Claws’ follow the pattern of Satyajit Ray’s Indigo Stories and Stranger Stories or Ruskin Bond’s familiar ghost story collections that one might enjoy by a campfire at night. Some of the best in the collection, though, are the modern-day psychological thrillers and feature right at the beginning of the collection: KR Meera’s ‘He Ghoul’ (in which a woman spends a night in a bungalow where her first lover was killed), Kanishk Tharoor’s ‘Monkeys in the Onion Field’ (with a most unexpected ghost who turns up unexpectedly to take care of an unexpected task), Jerry Pinto’s ‘In a Small Room, Somewhere’ (that redefines the relationship between a horror story and fear in the present-day world)  and later Shinie Antony’s own ‘Ghost No. 1.’ (about the world’s first – and feminist – ghost). Very few fall short of expectations, given that the writers are well established in their own fields. 


No comments:

Post a Comment