“Gods, Nukes and a whole lot of Nonsense” by Shirani Rajapakse

When you read these stories, you know they were written by a poet. I was immediately captivated by the settings, described in minute detail: shape, colour, sound and smell. Next I was drawn in by the characters. The intricate details of their lives and their families, friends and fellow workers. Finally, though, it is this author’s compassionate portrayal of the mental experiences of her characters that fascinates the reader. External plot is secondary; the real event in each tale is the development of a new personal theme in the life of the main character.

Perhaps the most meaningful story to the Western reader would be “In Search of a Miracle,” which chronicles in great detail the experiences and reactions of a young American student on a multi-day train ordeal to Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in India. Nothing really happens. She takes the train there, she walks around, she returns to Delhi. But what is remarkable is how the mood of the story echoes her mood as she progresses through the experience. As her reaction to her environment changes, there is a palpable change in the writing to create a different atmosphere to match, allowing us to feel that we are taking part.

“The Postcard Swami” — from the story of the same name — calls himself the face of India. This book is the picture of India, from the noise, brilliance, and odours into the minds and souls of the people.

I have reviewed this writer before, and it is a tribute to her skill that this book, with so different an objective from that other work, uses a whole different set of techniques to achieve its goal.

Highly recommended for fans of poetic writing of all sorts.


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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