Bhat takes an unusual approach to this nuanced, imaginative journey. The central characters remain nameless and somewhat voiceless throughout the narrative, never directly divulging their points of view. Their personalities and plights are instead revealed through a series of vignettes from 16 secondary characters who come into contact with them. Introductions and maps aid readers in navigating the intersections, keeping the collection grounded. The result is compelling; each vignette dips into characters’ inner lives and personal conflicts, revealing crucial information to give readers a larger story that’s both broad and intimate.
With careful depictions of differences, Bhat shows characters struggling in both obvious and subtle ways to express themselves across language, generational, and cultural barriers. A thorough exploration of inner turmoil builds a sense of intimacy with the characters. Bhat’s dextrous prose shifts to bring the distinct voices of the characters to life, from the slang of teenagers in a rural village to the flowing, elegant language of a poet. Some parts beg to be read aloud. Bhat’s bittersweet plots, surprising narrative style, and graceful prose make reading this collection an immersive experience.
Takeaway: This collection’s thought-provoking plots, fluid prose, and innovative narrative style will charm readers of literary fiction.
Great for fans of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
Design and typography: A+
Marketing copy: A