Let me start off by saying that I am biased towards short stories. They appeal to the impatient soul in me that wants to “get there” quickly. Sharath Komarraju’s collection of short
stories, replete with characters that have all kinds of personalities — jealous, cruel, shrewd, chronically depressed — carry a generous pinch of dark. Yet, they are earthy and charming. When you read the stories, you tend to get the impression that you’re standing right there, albeit a short distance away. It feels like the author really knows the surroundings, his language has ample local flavour and the prose is simple yet elegant.
Some think that great writers also use big words, but (and this is my personal opinion) for me, great writing is simple words woven well; they won’t have you reaching for the dictionary every few pages. I loved the simplicity of the language. Granted, there are few places where the choice of words is odd, but in the grander scheme of things, it’s easy to overlook them and accept The Narrow Road to Palem for what it is – a charming set of stories that make for a perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea on a cold, rainy day.
What I liked
- The simplicity of the language.
- The thread of dark that runs through the stories.
- The rather interesting themes of the story.
What I didn’t like
- I know you’re supposed to suspend belief in reading sometimes, but there were some places in a few stories that were hard to digest – like in Malli, her sudden possessiveness of her son, for which there isn’t much background (not that it’s difficult to understand).
- There were some editing errors, not a lot. Still, it’s a major eyesore when you’re reading something really good and that experience is taken away by an error that could’ve been avoided with a good round of proofing.
I do recommend picking this one up when you want to read something quick, something light and something quite entertaining.