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America in the year 2048 and other stories
Shukdeb Sen, author
‘America in the year 2048 and other stories’ includes thirteen stories that range from the futuristic to the current. These stories are told in terms of events that inhabit the average American's mind, heart, and spirit. Thomas Jefferson ignited the democratic experiment in 1776 to establish a republic where all people are created equal. These people have the right to life and the pursuit of happiness. A shocking blow was delivered on January 6, 2021, to the American dream of creating a perfect republic where democracy is the guiding light. This infused doubt into the American psyche. In the story ‘America in the year 2048’, we learn how far America has come in realizing its dream of equality and freedom. ‘A torn page from a travel brochure’ illustrates the events leading up to 9/11. This attack could have been prevented if we listened to an immigrant’s warning. ‘An unfulfilled love’ and ‘The story of a red rose’ describe the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. ‘Chandralekha’ opened the window for us to see the brutality of the British occupation of India during the 1940s. ‘Tiki’, ‘My paradise’ and ‘The hand holds a flower’ are part of a bouquet of love stories. ‘Justice Delivered’ opens a social scar that devastated women in Bengal, India. ‘Wandering cranes’ show the loving bond between humans and birds. ‘God’s shadow’ questions God’s existence and wisdom. ‘Remembrance’ is a poignant tale between a father and a son. It would be a journey of exhilaration, melancholy, optimism, love, hope, and the belief in the beauty of humanity.
Sen (author of Innocence) plumbs the politics of “liberty for the people, by the people, and of the people” in this collection of stories rooted in contemporary political, religious, and cultural flashpoints—and celebrating equality and social justice. The titular entry imagines a divided America reunited by a string of landmark events, including Hillary Clinton’s 2024 election as president, followed by an economic and social reformation from which a new America emerges, with “a pluralistic ideology that embraces racial, sexual, and economic equity for all Americans.” That story sets the book’s pace and is followed by an examination of humanity in all its beauty and terror, taking on religion, love, and more in the process.

Though political reformation takes center stage, discerning readers will find a rich sprinkling of passion throughout Sen’s stories, wrought through the intense but tragic love story found in “An Unfulfilled Love,” or in “My Paradise,” where Shukumar, a family’s sole survivor of a religious riot, is able to rebuild his life by adopting a deceased friend’s daughter. There are more gentle portrayals of love’s healing power as well, in the gradual reconnection between father and son in “Remembrance,” when Amar reflects on his father’s love “taking away the anger and resentment that had been buried deep in my mind all these years.” Sen also writes starkly of religion’s power and destruction, drawing parallels in “Invisible Bond” between an affluent American man dying from colon cancer and a refugee child caught in the crosshairs of Burmese religious wars.

A yearning for equality powers these fictions, as Sen examines unsettling but critical issues, including tragedies in the Indian penal system and the far-reaching effects of Britain’s historic treatment of India. The themes are moving, and they illuminate the deeper meaning behind life’s tragedies and triumphs: “Our dreams are built around life, yet we don’t consider that the web we are creating is standing on quicksand that could collapse at any time.”

Takeaway: Striking tales of contemporary conflict, celebrating hope and equality.

Comparable Titles: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A