Friday Bookbag is a (semi-)weekly feature where I share a list of books I’ve borrowed, bought, or received during the week. It’s my chance to buzz about my excitement for books I might not get the chance to review.
This week I’m skipping over the whole pile of books I’ve bought since the last time I put up a Friday Bookbag (in October! Whew!). Instead I’m spotlighting a couple of short story collections I’ve received for review recently. Let’s dive in!
White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar
source: a copy from the author
the premise: Says the back cover:
A woman grieves a miscarriage, haunted by the Buddha’s birth. An artist with schizophrenia tries to survive hatred and indifference in small-town India by turning to the beauty of sculpture and dance. A brief but intense affair between two women culminates in regret and betrayal.
It’s a collection of seventeen stories that centers on women of color, especially queer women of color, trying to survive in a violent world.
why I’m excited: I’m a lesbian, and as much as I love happy portrayals of women loving other women, I’m also a sucker for more complex stories about queer women in the world. White Dancing Elephants promises to be that kind of complex, interesting, diverse read–diverse both in the shorthand sense of not white, not straight and also diverse in the way short story collections are always diverse: an assemblage of different perspectives and approaches to a theme. Where a novel digs deep, a short story collection can go wide. I’m excited about this one.
Mothers: Stories by Chris Power
source: a copy from the publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, won in a contest
the premise: From the inside flap (can you tell I’ve given up trying to summarize short story collections on my own? there’s just too much much in them):
Ranging from remote English moors to an ancient Swedish burial ground to a hedonistic Mexican wedding, the stories in Mothers lay bare the emotional and psychic damage of life, love, and abandonment.
It’s apparently “braided through” with overarching stories about Eva, “a daughter, wife, and mother, whose search for a self and a place of belonging tracks a devastating path through generations.”
why I’m excited: Well, everything I said about short story collections above still applies here: I just love the experiments with language and storytelling they enable. For another, I love stories about mothers and daughters. That’s not the entirety of the collection, but it’s obviously a critical portion, given the title and repeated stories about Eva. And as I’ve written about extensively before, I prefer to read stories about women. Those will always be the most interesting, precious stories to me, given how often they’re sidelined. I’m curious what Power’s approach will be to this collection, given that he’s a man writing a very feminine-coded book (the cover’s even pink!). I’m curious how he will treat his characters. It could go wrong, or it could go very right! I’m excited to find out which it is.
What’s in your bookbag this week? Do you have any exciting weekend reading plans? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to link to your own book reviews and blog posts!