Book title – hawk’s Nest, an anthology
Publisher – Room9 Publications
Price – ₹ 273/- for the paperback. Free on kindle unlimited
Language – English
If you throw a motley crew of writers together and give their group a name, what would you call them?
A harem – Nah! That’s too risqué.
A coven – Nope! That’d be too witchy.
An Inn – Hmm, yes! ArtoonsInn, a place where artists reside sounds just about right.
Hawk’s Nest, is an anthology of brilliant short stories written by writers who inhabit the virtual space of the Inn. They reside and work their magic in this creative space, producing work that is a reader’s delight. These talented scribes write with such casual elegance that you are left wondering whether you read a passage from their work or witnessed an extract from life. I kid you not! That is the level of engagement their stories offer. There is magic and then there is fantasy coupled by a healthy dose of life drama; all within the confines of these 226 odd pages. From medical miracles to British Raj, the stories explore all premises and settings and bring forth a brilliant set of narratives that read like a novel.
As I started reading what I was struck by was the compilation of this book. Many a time when we read an anthology that has multiple writers, some of the stories turn out to s. This is not a criticism against any writer but it’s a fact that if you put a handful of similar things together then some of them are going to be better than the rest. The better ones, leave you awed but the lesser ones, leave you wanting for more and make you grumble at the waste of time. This is precisely why I avoid reading anthologies except for an anthology of short stories by the same writer.
Well, Hawk’s nest surprised me.
At no point did I feel a lag in the engagement level. The stories are varied in not just their content but also in the treatment each writer has given his/her story. No two are alike and yet, together they do make for a beautiful book. As you flit from one story to the next, you do not feel the shift in language mar your reading pleasure. On the contrary, the stories are so brilliantly strung together that one kind of extends into another and you don’t even realize the book is over. I should know. I read it in one go and even though I am a speed reader, the book made me pause often to let the depth of emotions sink in.
Now, why I love the book…
‘Holy cow’! Nah, I am not cussing here. This is just the first story title and to tell you the truth, I wanted to ask the writer after I read it – are you a cow? If not, then how is it possible for a human to write so brilliantly from a cow’s….oops, a bull’s perspective?
‘To Sir, with love’ (no, not E R Braithwaite’s story, this is by a writer at the Inn) took me back to the days of reading Ruskin Bond. The story is simple and yet relatable.
‘The arrival’ gave me a dose of real-world semantics because of its simplicity and engagement with the reader.
‘War and Peace’ and ‘from darkness to dawn’ simply took my breath away. So poignant are the descriptions in these latter two stories that they transport you to the scene. I felt the heat of the fires that were set, I felt my tired limbs ache and I felt the surge of hope amid doom as both stories ended. Yes, that is how brilliant I found them.
‘A monument for my Shah Jahan’ – No, I am not building one. This is just the last story in the book and I loved it for the sheer brilliance of the language. It is prosaically poetic.
The other stories that share space with a few of my favorites are brilliant in their own sense. Srivalli, Manideepa, Ashwin and others write with an elegance that is reminiscent of contemporary masters.
So, Do I recommend this book?
If you are going on a short journey, have an afternoon free or are stuck indoors on a rainy day – pick up your copy of Hawk’s Nest and let the pen scribes transport you to their settings.
I guarantee, it will be time well spent.