cover image Namaste Trump and Other Stories

Namaste Trump and Other Stories

Tabish Khair. Interlink, $17 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-6237-1748-3

Indian writer Khair colors in scenes of quotidian life with depictions of violence, political upheaval, and strange behavior in this accomplished collection (after the crime novel The Body by the Shore). “Night of Happiness,” a novella set in the present day, explores an employer’s unease with his loyal right-hand man. Anil Mehrota, a Hindu, runs a thriving import/export business with the help of Ahmed, the only Muslim applicant for the job (“I did not want to feel prejudiced by not giving him a chance,” Mehrota narrates). In “The Corridor,” one of three stories that depict the chaos and instability of the early 1970s Indo-Pakistan conflicts, a young boy fears his routine visits with a tutor, whose building is infested with rats and has dank hallways piled with discarded furniture. The incandescent “Shadow of a Story” features a literature professor’s meditation on the value of literature as the Covid-19 pandemic ravages India. He remembers how two decades earlier, while visiting his rural hometown after finishing his PhD, he stumbled upon the body of a six-year-old child bride who had been sacrificially killed. Khair demonstrates a sure hand in stories that keep readers on their toes with a mix of existential searching and biting irony. (July)