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Transactions of Belongings

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The short stories in the collection blend emotion and introspection. Moments of urgency and sweetness are fully canvassed and explored. The stories draw out and examine the texture of emotional belonging. In "His Curls," a mother suffers the anguish of wondering if her son is a terrorist. The ending is left to interpretation and several possibilities. The reader is forced to teeter between laughter and sadness in the tragicomedy of "An Indian Summer." "The Blue Arc" is a redemptive tale of a young woman who shows enormous courage. Each story in the collection is a journey of insights. Transactions of Belonging is a unique, intense and gripping work of short fiction.

"In this debut collection, Jaya Padmanabhan has brought together a diverse and memorable group of characters from many kinds of backgrounds. With meticulous details and keen observation, she brings them to life and makes us care about them-their poverty, their loneliness, their tragedies and their triumphs."-CHITRA DIVAKARUNI, author of The Mistress of Spices and Oleander Girl

197 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Bhavya.
Author 2 books9 followers
June 28, 2014
The minute the book reaches your hand you think about the two eyes, wonder what secret might be lurking in them, wonder what questions they are raising and wonder why half the face is hidden.

When you start reading and finish each story, you realise why the face is not revealed. The face could be yours or mine, the story could be his or hers. The 12 stories are very humane and some of them very disturbing and hauntingly beautiful.

The language used is simple and straight, the South Indian touch is very much there and the characters are very real. They get hurt and we feel the pain, that is the beauty of her writing.

Each story is a treat in itself and this is a book worth reading again and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about people and feel their lives.

Profile Image for VaultOfBooks.
487 reviews105 followers
August 6, 2014

Very few books can make their readers pick them up just using just their title. And out of these few, it is rare to find a book that stands up to the reason you chose it. This was one such book. What piqued my interest is how my mind interpreted the title. In one of her interviews, the AUTHOR says “Belonging represents the most valuable COMMODITY that is at the heart of every relationship. Belonging wraps into itself the concepts of give and take, adaptability, acceptance, rejection, inclusion, longing, yearning, hope as well as love. In this book, I examine the transactions we enter into, the compromises we make, the filters we use to justify our need to belong”. I found this a very simple yet a wonderful portrayal of the human mind. I fell for this book, right there – hook, line and sinker.

This book is a collection of 12 short stories of all varieties. Though this is her debut, the author easily manages to imprint in our minds her flair for evoking an epiphany at the end of every story. With extreme attention to detail, she intricately describes her scenes and characters that is a trademark of a good author. Similarly, her acute insights into the workings of the human mind are clearly evident in her characters and their development. The diversity in her characters and her narration makes each character different from one another. The best thing about author Jaya Padhmanabhan’s stories are the way they end. Most of them are left open for the reader’s to interpret, similar to her book’s title.

My favorites of these stories are: The Blue Arc that tells the story of a young sex worker who seeks the path of liberation, Neiappams – just the character Sankar made me love this story, His Curls – A story of how a mom sees her son’s growth from innocence to violence, helplessly, and Curtains Drawn – a somber story on how a child’s innocence can be destroyed by the thoughtless actions and ignorance of his parents.

One of the best books from Indian authors that I have read recently, put this book on your To-Read list without fail.

Originally reviewed at Vaultofbooks.com, a close-knit community of fanatical readers. We are looking for perceptive readers who can write well, and we are eager to provide lots of free books in exchange for reviews. Shoot us a mail at contact@vaultofbooks.com
Profile Image for Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws.
1,608 reviews239 followers
February 17, 2017

I have to admit that I picked up this book based solely on its title. ‘Transactions of Belonging’ sounded a bit ominous and it genuinely made me curious about this anthology of short stories by a single author.

This anthology contains twelve astonishingly daring and beautiful short stories that delve into human emotions thoroughly. From a mother daughter relationship to the life of an lonely old man to a mother anguishing over whether her son is a terrorist to a girl ending up as sex worker in her life to the connection between drinking and abuse to children becoming too independent of their parents. Name an emotion that real people feel in their lives that hasn’t been deeply explored already and it is there in this book.

Each story has its grip on the reader and I can’t, for the life of me, decide which story I like the best. Individually, each story has something unique to offer and as a whole this anthology is a bomb waiting to go off as readers turn its pages. It took me only a couple of hours to finish reading this book and I wished that there were more pages to be turned. I applaud the author for choosing to write such emotional short stories that tug at the right heartstrings. An amazing debut and I hope to read more meaningful work from this author soon.

Profile Image for Natasha Borah.
Author 1 book
May 22, 2014
I found the cover very intriguing. A pair of eyes peering over a crumpled/worn out piece of paper promises that the stories would be different. And different they were.

The book consists of twelve short stories, all different and quite intense. But a sense of sadness and a lot of emotions are common to all. Here's a peek into the stories:

"The Blue Arc" is the story of a young girl who, given her background, had a promising future. But fate played a cruel joke on her family and she turned into a sex worker.

"Strapped for Time" is the story of an old man who is lonely and who lives a routine life minute by minute.

Read my complete review at NatashazWords
Profile Image for Riz.
16 reviews
December 18, 2014
On instinct, read this collection starting with the last story first and working my way back to the first one and glad I did as each got better than the other. They are all dark, very dark, but bring to light that underbelly of human existence that we wish to brush aside but are forced to acknowledge in the stories.
Profile Image for Mithun.
12 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2014

Good writing, really brings out the emotions of the characters in the different short stories. Might be a bit on the broodier side though. The stories are nicely paced and are short enough to read in 15 minutes each, if you don't get sidetracked in between as I usually am. Overall a good read.
Profile Image for Vinay Leo.
968 reviews71 followers
March 25, 2015
Review on A Bookworm’s Musing: http://wp.me/p2J8yh-2MR

What I liked:
+ True to life, intense stories
+ Style of writing, attention to details
+ Wonderful memorable characters

These stories I know will remain with me for a long time. I liked each of them, and it was a different type of stories. A brilliant book, for sure.
Profile Image for Hemant Jain.
313 reviews25 followers
July 10, 2014
An interesting set of stories.

Intense, Unpredictable, even Strange at times.

Enjoyed reading them
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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