A to Z Stories of Life and Death

Rated 4.85/5 based on 14 reviews
How do you judge a teacher toying with the sexuality of her teenaged student? A boy who decides to murder his mother? What thoughts rage inside a pedophile serial killer before he shoots himself? These are some of the premises of 26 stories of life and death, based on the 26 letters of the alphabet. They question the concepts of beauty, truth, and morality, by revealing the face of the other side. More

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About D Biswas

D.Biswas lives more in her head than in this world, adores her husband, and loves her pet fish and plants. She is an established writer for magazines and journals. Her short fiction has been published in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Muse India and in print anthologies by Marshall Cavendish, Monsoon Books, and MPH publications.

Reviews

Review by: Paul Ruddock on Dec. 07, 2013 :
As delightful and thought provoking an anthology as I've read in a long time. The stories themselves fall largely into the flash fiction genre and occasionally the vignette, though to pigeon-hole them this way hardly does them justice. The settings span the globe but are set mostly in the Asian sub-continent and the far east. The topics and social issues they deal with are both difficult and provocative: domestic abuse, poverty, sexuality, and exploitation to name but a few.

As a European reader, I was captivated by the author's accounts of life in other cultures, many of which are saddening and hard to comprehend; our (European) notions of poverty and depravation are quickly turned on their heads by the honest and sensitive way in which they form the backdrop to the stories. Elements of the storyline in each case often deliberately remain unwritten, i.e. implied or hinted at, forcing the reader to use their imagination and interpret each story in their own way and really think about what they are reading. Some of the stories conclude with a glimmer of hope for the future set against the harrowing circumstances of what's gone before; others do not, which for me really gives them added authenticity - life isn't all about happy endings.

If all the reader is looking for is light entertainment then this book probably isn't it, but for stories that really engage the reader, gets them thinking, challenging their own perspectives and thinking, then these twenty six literary jewels would be hard to surpass.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Sparrow on Oct. 29, 2012 :
WoW! I am lucky that I didn't miss this one-off journey.....I don't want to spill the beans and spoil another reader's first journey to a red carpeted yet bumpy zig-zag road .surprises wait at every turn....you have to be awake with all your senses and take along the sixth sense too to get into the skin of many of the stories. Couple of hours trek into vivid array of characters....these are heavy readings ...many are painful commentary on social issues ....but one thing amaze me ... the social and life issues that author D.Biswas so deftly laced inside the plot, say one for Singapore, or another for USA, yet another for a northern hill girl...the issues are at large in any country the reader belong to and hence would be at ease to identify the same ill in his society as well - difference will be in degree .Two suggestions - One.pictorial background will enhance the appeal and second.The hammering and the pain built up needed a couple of lighter readings in between, just like a movie needs its intermission....I am glad that I read A2Z. If you are an adult, you mustn't have to go far off ....you can have a roller-coaster high-speed quickie .....
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Marian Allen on Jan. 28, 2012 :
This book is amazing! I read many of them as they were written -- ONE A DAY -- during the 2011 April A-to-Z challenge. I understand some of those were left out, others were added and all were edited. The result is a collection of little jewels. Some are happy, some are sad, some are disturbing, but all are moving and exceptional. Beautiful language! Beautiful book!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Ashish Kumar on Jan. 10, 2012 :
Each one of these stories is a gem.

Before I started reading them, I thought that the title was a bit trite, and I suspected that the writer would have force-fitted some story headings to get a cute-sounding title. I couldn't have been more wrong - the titles do not appear contrived at all, and the stories fit together very well. It's incredible, and inspiring for writers, that this work was done over 26 days.

It's hard to single out any one outstanding piece. Each of them is very taut. Ghosh is a wordsmith who uses her words sparingly.

The pieces are very real, gritty and diverse. Ghosh is able to write from a staggering range of points of view.

I will force myself to point out a few minor flaws: "subway" is not a term generally used in Singapore, some of the stories have the text starting after a page break, and in all of the book I didn't like one phrase, "eating snails as per their moods..."

I found this a wonderful introduction to flash fiction.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Guilie Castillo-Oriard on Nov. 13, 2011 :
D. Biswas is a master of the short fiction genre. She draws the reader into the story with a talent for descriptive narration that borders on the genius--why? Because she rarely describes per se. She builds the scene, the characters and the setting with sparse words, and yet the world she draws us into is real and palpable. Her characters jump off the page, bursting with life--with dreams, with desires, with shortcomings, with moral dilemmas.

A to Z Stories is the first short story collection I've read in a long time that I simply could not put down. Cannot wait for more of her work.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Paul on Nov. 08, 2011 :
In imitation of the spirit in which this ebook was written, I intended to allow myself one story per day, but it wasn't long before I exceeded my ration. It's overall a dark book, yet sprinkled by many points of light, and who doesn't like a night sky? The uniqueness of each tale makes you curious about the next, pulling you on. I enjoyed this author's ability to insert "keepers" into her stories, little observations which lodge themselves in your mind because of their truth. One of my favorites is, "Love enters later in life through the cracks left by the first heartbreak." I would recommend this book without reservation.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Rachel Morgan on Nov. 08, 2011 :
Bite-size literary snacks. The tasty kind. The kind you keep going back for more of when no one else at the party is looking. (And of all the snacks I’ve tasted at this party, I love N the most!)
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: elisa bressan on Nov. 07, 2011 :
It captured me from the first story and I liked because this collection satisfy people who like to explore all the feelings.
Heaven and hell, love and loss are combined here in these intense, vibrant stories.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Toby Neal on Oct. 04, 2011 :
Tightly written collection of diverse gems. Each story left me thinking about it long after it slid down easy and unique, not a word wasted, glimpses of perspectives beyond imagination that cut to the heart of the human experience and leave the reader wondering and enriched.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Toby Neal on Oct. 04, 2011 :
Tightly written, not a word out of place, this collection of diverse, moving, disturbing and thought provoking short stories cut to the heart of the human experience. I was left thinking about them long after, like some small and perfect delicacy, they were devoured.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Anna Tan on Sep. 05, 2011 :
Birthed out of a month-long blogfest, D. Biswas’ A to Z Stories of Life and Death presents 26 short stories organised according to the letters in the alphabet. Beginning with the innocence and wonder of a child finding snails in her Aquarium and ending with a fiery funeral pyre in Zone, the stories run the gamut from love, murder, sex, abuse, addiction, myth, sickness and mourning - all revolving around the issues of life and death.

Majority of the stories are very poignant vignettes focusing on slices of life, with several longer flash fiction in between. Reading them makes you feel as if you are collecting memories from various sources and trying them on for size. Each story has its own personal twist - the endings are never quite what you expect - and most would leave you with a tear in your eye.

What I like about Biswas’ writing is the descriptive way she writes, which helps put you right in the middle of the scene. She is very good at invoking emotions and making you feel the story without a sense of detachment.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Pinn Lim on Sep. 04, 2011 : (no rating)
Intense. Page-turning. Evocative.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Dilip Shome on Aug. 19, 2011 :
An immensely readable collection that captures with great economy a whole gamut of emotions within its 25 odd pages in a voice that is clear, true and unsparing. A must read for lovers of short fiction.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Kia Kaha Press on Aug. 13, 2011 :
A fantastic collection exploring life and love and death and everything in between. The prose is rich and evocative, and it's well worth checking if you love sharp and snazzy literary fiction.

There's a wonderful mix of everything here, from the gritty and realistic to the dreamy and fairy-like. The author knows her stuff, and clearly, it shows.

A+ and two thumbs up.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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