[2011-08-15] “Khushwant Singh Selects Best Indian Short Stories (Volume 2)”

“Khushwant Singh Selects Best Indian Short Stories (Volume 2)” is the second part of a collection of short stories written by various Indian authors and selected by Khushwant Singh. I was looking forward to reading this volume after having read the first volume. Most of the stories in the first volume were of a good quality and I had hoped the same for this volume - unfortunately for me this volume is quite disappointing and the stories vary wildly in quality.

The first six stories in this book are awful in my opinion, even though they they were written by some big-shots (not necessarily in literature though). It's only from the seventh story onwards (“An Accident” by R. K. Laxman) that things start looking up for this book, though they again start to scrape the bottom by the end of the book. I'm a little befuddled by the vast difference in overall quality between the two books, since the stories have ostensibly been selected by the same person for the same collection of which these two books are the constituent parts. Perhaps the publisher should have just published a single volume of great stories, saving readers some money as well as saving a lot of trees.

As with the first book, the stories in this book are short enough to be completed in a single sitting and do not, mercifully, represent obtuse high literature. This makes the book ideal to be picked up during a short break or for a little unwinding, for example. The stories represent a fair cross-section of authors from across the country, including Manohar Malgonkar, Saadat Hasan Manto, Mohan Rakesh, Khushwant Singh, Bhisham Sahni, etc. As is to be expected, some of the flavor of the original language for a story is lost in the translation to English (at least for the stories in Hindi or Urdu), but thankfully much of the original character is retained.

If you have read the first volume, keep your expectations low for this one and you won't be disappointed. If you haven't read the first volume, go ahead and read it - it is well worth the little time and effort you will put into it; this one, I'm afraid not so much.

Other Posts from 2011