Dangerous, misunderstood creatures—a man-eating tiger, a wild elephant, and of course, the title executioner, to name just a few—populate Rajesh Parameswaran’s debut collection of short stories. I Am An Executioner offers a fiercely creative—and deeply morbid—vision of what it takes to stay alive. The struggle for survival dominates the lives of these characters; it’s finally their most feral instincts that carve their fates.
I reviewed I Am an Executioner: Love Stories for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. The full review is here.
For Newsweek/The Daily Beast, I reviewed A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois:
Jennifer DuBois’s debut novel opens with an epigraph from Vladimir Nabakov: “We are all doomed, but some of us are more doomed than others.” Perhaps an equally appropriate selection for this tender but sharp-edged book would have been the refrain of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art”: “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” This is a story about learning to face loss and failure—if not with grace or composure, then at least with personal integrity.
The full review is here. (Also, here’s what Gary Shteyngart had to say about this book: “Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination. Jennifer duBois is too young to be this talented. I wish I were her.”)
I reviewed Mr. g by Alan Lightman for Newsweek/The Daily Beast:
For a book with no hidden plot twists—the reader knows that Mr. g’s experiments in cosmos-building in his pet universe, Aalam-104729, are bound to lead to the birth of mankind—Mr. g is strangely suspenseful. It turns out that the act of creation is profoundly transformative, even for a formless, timeless, all-powerful primogenitor. The plot moves forward as the universe gradually unfolds, but the real story here is about Mr. g’s inner awakening.
I reviewed The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai for Newsweek/The Daily Beast:
Regret, disappointment, and despair color the lives of the characters of The Artist of Disappearance, author Anita Desai’s latest book, which is made up of three novellas. In these stories, Desai casts her gaze backward to conjure a fading era. Though “details of time and place are left deliberately vague” (as Desai notes in a recent interview), the India of this volume is clearly not the “new India” of booming economic growth and rapidly shifting fortunes; it is an older India of fading dynasties and postcolonial habits.