The second edition of Penguin’s annual anthology, this one has poetry in addition to fiction and non-fiction.
There are 11 works of non fiction, though some of them, I thought, would have made more sense in the fiction set!! My favourite would have to be Arunava Sinha’s “Apna Desh, Apna Blog”, the evolution of a blog and the blogger, more so because I could easily identify with it. His wit is evident not just from the piece, but also in the ‘Notes on contributors’. Dilip D’Souza’s “Night in the city”, ‘an ordinary Bombay story’ is also a good read, that reflects not just contemporary society, but also its sense of law and justice.
“Roy’s quest”, by Samrat Choudhury is a cute read about a schoolboy’s crush. “Family”, by Salman Haidar and “Delhi’s last conquerors”, by Ranjana Sengupta give us great glimpses of history.
A dozen works of fiction, and picking a favourite in this section is more difficult. So we’ll go in the order of appearance. “Karim”, by Anushka Ravishankar is an excellent take on organised religion, and its effects on daily lives, as seen from a child’s perspective. “An Indian Porn director’s speech to his hesitant leading lady”, by Altaf Tyrewala is bizarrely hilarious. “Luck” by Dhruba Hazarika is also an interesting read about a pigeon called Luck and the changes it brings about in its owner’s life. “Stupid”, by Sonia Faleiro is another good read with a neat pragmatic/cynical/sad ending.
If I had to choose a favourite, it would be C.Sriram’s “A matter of faith”, which deals with the mystery of existence, and how we adapt it in accordance with our own needs. “Mrs. Anand”, by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a touching piece that captures the different roles that a woman plays in a family and society, the losses she quietly accepts, and the brief moments of understanding from another person that allows her to give in to her grief and shed a few tears. The last work of fiction is from Kanishk Tharoor (yep, not a very common surname ), its interesting in a unique way.
You’ll have to look elsewhere for the poetry review, because that’s something I’ve never been able to relate to.