Imphal Review of Arts and Politics


Short Stories Collection Explores Changing Nature of Love, Violence and Intimacy in India in Internet Age

Book Title: The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories

Author: Nisha Susan

Published by: Context (an imprint of Westland Publications)

Fiction: Short Stories

Rating: 4/5 stars

Book summary

A classical musician finds a prince in a chat room. Three dancers in Kochi mastermind their sex lives over email. A young wife in Mumbai becomes obsessed with a dead woman’s online relics. Strange (and familiar) troll wars drag at a writer’s peace of mind. Her daughter’s cellphone conversations deeply worry a cook in Delhi. A young mother finds a job monitoring disturbing content for a social media company.

The stories in this dazzling debut collection tap into the rich vein of love, violence and intimacy that technology, particularly the Internet, has brought to the lives of Indians over the last two decades. Two decades that transformed India’s digital landscape, where would-be lovers went from cooing into cordless phones to swiping right on cellphones.

Whimsical in its telling and brutal in its probing of the human mind, these stories breathe unexpected life into the dark and joyful corners of a country learning to relish and resist globalisation.

About the author:

Nisha Susan is a writer and editor. She is the co founder of two award winning media companies: The Ladies Finger and Grist Media. She was formerly Features Editor, Tehelka magazine and Commissioning Editor for Yahoo Originals. Her non fiction focusing on culture, gender and politics have been published in Caravan, Penguin and Zubaan besides others.

My Review

Nisha Susan’s The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories is quite an eclectic range of short stories that have one thing in common: how technology and the lives of Indians are playing out amidst the vagaries of the daily grind of life, relationships or what looks like relationships, career graphs, social and political issues, the push and pull of work spaces and so on. Each story brings its share of characters and situations that finds its way to your heart: their oddities or familiarity, the crazy tangents that a human mind can take on while aided and/or equally constrained by technology.

Nisha Susan’s writing is very contemporary – in the word play that her characters converse in and yet, she does not restrict her characters and settings to one socio economic class or one generation. The female characters in every story in this book will find a way to stay on in your mind: there is something about each one of them that will leave you thinking. Every story in this collection goes into unexpected territories and readers will be left slightly marveling at the ease with which the author has approached her craft of story telling: with a sharp wit that crackles and hums its own tune.

The title story has a tongue in cheek track with its many couples coupling and the afterthought for the need for a social media app just to keep track. ‘Trinity’ is a snarky commentary on how young women negotiate (or try to) with their new found rebel status against what holds them down: small town social norms, small victories over peers, standing out in the crowd and then finding over time that things haven’t changed at all. ‘The Gentle Reader’ about an author struggling with her creative process and expectations from her writing even as she fights her battle with a non productive phase to devote herself to her craft while getting caught in the eye of an online attack is almost like an up close and personal read of how authors today try to stay relevant.

The stories in this collection treats technological changes and their presence almost like a character in the way they play a major part in how the character or the story line develops. Truth be told, this is a book that I did not think I would read but then again, don’t they say that certain books will find their way to the readers they were meant for? I am certainly glad this book was sent to me for I can now say that ‘The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories’ is the kind of book I would recommend to fellow readers so I can discuss it with others. There is much that the stories and the characters will leave you with. Read this and you will be enthralled for sure.

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