Lingering Tide and Other Stories

Latha Viswanathan, Author
Latha Viswanathan. TSAR (Univ. of Toronto, dist.), $20.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-894770-75-0
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 11/01/2011
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Viswanathan's debut collection—set in locales as diverse as India, Texas, and Canada—comprises twelve masterfully told tales of the struggles of immigrants, ranging in subject matter from adolescent love; mythic tales in the time of rajas; an ex-pat swimming pool in the Philippines; and a Laotian refugee being trucked to and fro jobs in California. The stories are brimming with compelling and complex characters, like Ammini ("Brittle"), an old woman with a mysteriously painful past who has been reduced to gumming coveted peanut brittle in a pantry and playing house with a child; and Bora, a modern, aspiring monk whose mental training is catalogued in "Bee Mind Lotus Bud." The strongest story is by far the titular "Lingering Tide," whose tight and sparing narrative illuminates the 45-year marriage of Surya and his late wife Uma. Like Divya in "Eclipse," Viswanathan's life spent "spanning continents [and] skipping oceans" (as a journalist, copywriter, editor, and teacher, she's lived in London, Manila, Montreal, and more) makes these stories strikingly vivid and memorable. (Mar.)