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Aerogrammes: and Other Stories

by
3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  303 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
From the highly acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns (“Dazzling . . . One of the most exciting debut novels since Zadie Smith’s White Teeth”—San Francisco Chronicle; “An astonishment of a debut”—Junot Díaz), a bravura collection of short stories set in locales as varied as London, Sierra Leone, and the American Midwest that captures the yearning and dislocation of young m ...more
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley CashTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka BruntGone Girl by Gillian FlynnBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau
Kirkus Best Fiction of 2012
75th out of 100 books — 64 voters
Tenth of December by George SaundersInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa LahiriKarmic Krackers by Dab10Small Matters by Michael KanuckelCivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
Contemporary Short Story Collections
192nd out of 289 books — 180 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 904)
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Mark
Mar 19, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, asian, immigrants

First things first. Tania James is just a terrific writer. In a few short sentences, she can capture a relationship, make you care about a character, or present a weighty idea.

In this set of short stories, I would say the dominant theme is "melancholy sweetness," if there is such a thing. Almost all the stories deal with issues of loss -- of status, or memory, or relationships, or physical ability -- but that is not to say that these short stories leave you depressed or unhopeful.

For making full
...more
Paige
Jul 25, 2012 Paige rated it really liked it
Just like the stars say--I really liked this book. I saw it sitting at the library's new items table. I picked it up but saw that it was short stories and (remembering my last run-in with a volume of short stories), put it down instantly. But a few seconds later I decided that the cover art was charming enough for me to give it a try.

Here's my story-by-story rating of the book:
5 stars: Lion and Panther in London, The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor, Ethnic Ken
4 stars: What t
...more
Qube
Tania James’ Aerogrammes is a series of short stories (brief aerogrammes, if you will) about the emotional displacement experienced in physically displaced families (i.e. immigrants). Except for the first two stories, the book paints brief portraits of lives of second generation Indian-Americans. Each one is unique, and each crafted meticulously to deliver a psychological punch in surprisingly few pages.

In my current quest to sample modern Indian fiction, I came upon this book after reading five
...more
Ty Melgren
Apr 27, 2014 Ty Melgren rated it liked it
This book has a good cover. The first story in here is about two professional wrestlers, Gama the Great and his brother Imam, hanging out in London in 1910. I liked it a lot. It made me want to train to be an Indian wrestler. I've started eating lots of almonds and sometimes doing squats and push-ups, but feeling cooler about myself because I think of them as bethaks and dands. So my pehlwani training has been very slightly more rigorous than the time I briefly got excited about William Faulkner ...more
Danica Stone
Jul 12, 2013 Danica Stone rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
This is a really well-written book. The prose is crystal-clear, beautiful, and compelling. But it happens to fall into my least favorite genre: really realistic, detailed stories about people's emotional landcapes and inner lives that are almost uniformly depressing.

I'm sure there's a word for this. Something about nihilism. People who write this way probably call it some kind of realism, the way pessimists always say they're being realistic. I didn't finish it, and I don't want to. But you may
...more
Carly Thompson
Nov 03, 2014 Carly Thompson rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories, raig, 2014
Collection of short stories about dislocation and living within two cultures. Tania James is an Indian American writer and the stories I enjoyed the most were about the experiences of second and first generation Indian Americans. "Ethnic Ken" about a 9 year old Indian American girl who still likes to play with Barbies and her relationship with her grandfather was my favorite in the collection. The title story, "Aerogrammes" about an Indian American man adjusting to life in a retirement home was ...more
Kevin McAllister
Feb 03, 2012 Kevin McAllister rated it really liked it
The best thing about Aerogrammes; a small collection of Tania James short stories, is the large variety of main characters. For the most part they all revolve around Indian families and the ways in which they attempt to hold onto their Eastern ways while still embracing the foreign American culture. We hear about the struggle from all sorts of different voices. Male,female, the old, the young. Even a chimpanzee and a ghost ! Now how do you top that ?
Bill
Dec 22, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing
5***** says it all. Mostly, the stories are about personal relationships, about the joys and hardships of being different, about kinship (brotherhood especially), marriage, coming of age, in short, about life. Tania James is so young but she already masters the most difficult of prose genres, the short story.
(My personal fav is "Ethnic Ken" but "Light and Luminous" is another 5*****)
missy jean
Apr 05, 2016 missy jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I mean, one story about the emotional history of a chimpanzee and another story about handwriting analysis? I'm in.
Bonnie Brody
May 12, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was ok
I read over 100 pages of this book and I was unimpressed. The stories are very bland and left me scratching my head. There does not seem to be any real meaning behind them and they are not in any cohesive pattern. I recommend passing this one by.
Emily
Jan 24, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Loved these short stories, even though I'm not normally a fan of the format. All of them are about people searching for a human connection. All of them are heart wrenching and sad and beautiful.
Bookslut
Apr 14, 2013 Bookslut rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This was fan-freaking-tastic. I am having to seriously reassess why I "don't like short stories". Great book! And I love the cover.
Sean Carman
Jul 23, 2012 Sean Carman rated it it was amazing
I reviewed this book on the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-ca...
Amy Koenig
Jan 06, 2015 Amy Koenig rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did. I could have read an entire book about each short story.
George Ilsley
Sep 02, 2012 George Ilsley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Beautifully written. A touch sentimental at times, but overall, a masterful collection.
Hannah
Apr 04, 2013 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Every essay stuck a chord with me in some way. Beautiful.
D. Biswas
Nov 13, 2012 D. Biswas rated it really liked it
My Declared Bias: I read and write Literary, and I love short stories.

——

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you I didn’t read this collection at a go. Not because I couldn’t make the time, but because of two things:

1. The stories are all set in different (real) worlds, and each so transports you to its setting, you don’t immediately feel like entering another one.

2. The stories are rather sad (poignantly so), and I could only take so much of it each time.

The first story, a retelling of the history of I
...more
Natalie Marlin
Jul 16, 2012 Natalie Marlin rated it really liked it
I was turned on to this book by a starred review in one of the many library magazines that pass by me. My interest stemmed partially from the ties to Indian culture and partially because I wanted to read something short and sweet. Tania James does a wonderful job of depicting isolation and the need for human (or chimp) connection. Even better - she does it in 9 short, bite-sized stories.

In "What to Do with Henry", we see a woman travel from Ohio to Sierra Leone to adopt her husband's illegitima
...more
A.
Dec 18, 2012 A. rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
There are three excellent stories in this collection. Lion and Panther in London is about two Indian brothers who go to London in 1910 to wrestle. They are the champions of India, but they are having difficulty arranging matches in England. James does an extraordinary job in getting inside their world and how everything they think of as honorable, is corrupt and pathetic in England. Eventually, they are tainted by the corruption, even though they continue to act with honesty. What to Do with Hen ...more
Ruth
Jan 04, 2013 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd heard of this title for years. Many versions/translations-from-the-Middle-English are out there, and I can't comment on how one compares to another, or which translation is closest to the original. I'm not sure I care much; I just want to understand the flow of the poem. This is a ballad, but since it's translated, you don't get a true feel for the original metre. The gist of the tale is that a mysterious green knight appears to King Arthur and his Round Table around the turn of the year, at ...more
Indiabookstore
Jan 24, 2013 Indiabookstore rated it really liked it
An American lady adopts a daughter born from her husband’s extra-marital affair and also a chimpanzee along with it. These three form an extra-ordinary family in “What to do with Henry”, filling up the gaps and creases in each other’s lives. In “The Scriptological Review”, a young man obsesses over his father’s handwriting samples hoping to make sense of his suicide. In the title story, a lonely old man waits in a nursing home in the hope of his son coming to meet him soon. In “Ethnic Ken”, a yo ...more
Mariela Ochoa
May 19, 2013 Mariela Ochoa rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, library, bookclub
2.5 out of 5 hearts

This was the April 2013 selection for the Books & Booze book club, which was formed by a friend of mine. She read this book right after it was released, after James's first novel ATLAS OF UNKNOWNS received a lot of critical acclaim. You can read my discussion overview of our book club meeting for this book here.

This is James's first published collection of short stories. It focuses on the loneliness and its sentiments. She explores the different sides of loneliness - movi
...more
Anita
Mar 08, 2015 Anita added it
Some of these stories are incredible- favorites include Light & Luminous, What to do with Henry, The Scriptological Review, Aerogrammes, and Ethnic Ken. The two that were less exciting to me were still great from a formal perspective (Lion & Panther in London and Girl Marries Ghost). I love stumbling upon a collection of short stories that keeps me engaged throughout and characters that feel recognizable to me-- though not any more a Keralite than a Bengali, I felt a much stronger sense ...more
Suneetha
Dec 02, 2012 Suneetha rated it it was amazing
Tania James’ debut was impressive; which is what makes her short fiction anthology, Aerogrammes and Other Stories, an anticipated one. This reader’s verdict is an encore: it’s brilliant.

The stories of this eclectic collection do lean to some degree of diaspora. One might presume an inevitable comparison to Jhumpa Lahiri, which is not entirely gratuitous. But Ms James’ protagonists, like those in her debut fiction, hail mostly from the south of the Indian subcontinent. One can foresee a label of
...more
Moshe
May 03, 2015 Moshe rated it it was ok
I read most of these short stories. A few were good, most just OK. Lion and Panther, and Ethnic Ken were my faves. Her main characters are often emotionally damaged and interestingly complex.

Jeannine
May 18, 2013 Jeannine rated it really liked it
Loved this author's novel, The Atlas of Unknowns and loved these stories too. Original subjects, lyrical prose. This author has a way of looking at American and Indian cultures (and how they overlap) with humor and tenderness even if she's being critical. What To Do With Henry, Light & Luminous, Escape Key, and Lion and Panther in London were my favorites. The least successful story on the bunch was The Scriptological Review. All of the stories though, every one, contained a moment of beauti ...more
Tariq Engineer
Oct 29, 2015 Tariq Engineer rated it really liked it
The book left me with a lingering sense of sadness and the thought that we too easily pass over or fail to fully see those who aren't "normal" or who may no longer have much to offer us.
Scott
Jul 17, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it
An interesting collection of short stories. I especially liked "What to Do with Henry" and "The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor".
Ramnarayan
Jul 22, 2014 Ramnarayan rated it liked it
I like the writing and style. But I cannot find myself to accept the stories the characterizations. Tania James forget complex characters and make just nice reading good stories
The Book Outline
Nov 04, 2012 The Book Outline rated it really liked it
An American family adopts a chimpanzee from Sierra Leone, but has to ultimately deal with its humiliation of being in a zoo. In 1910, Gama, the champion wrestler from India visits London to fight challenge matches there and ultimately discovers that it is a city which is mysteriously absent of challengers and where athletes are actors and ring is the stage. A woman marries a ghost and he survives in the physical world with his intangible presence. Thus go few plot lines in Tania James’s impressi ...more
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