Author: Jaya Padmanabhan
Published by: Platinum Press (An imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Genre: Fiction/ Short Stories
ISBN: 978-93-83562-27-5
No. of Pages: 197
Price: ₹ 145/ $6

On the jacket: The short stories in the collection blend emotion and introspection. Moments of urgency and sweetness are fully canvassed and explored. The stories draw out and examine the texture of emotional belonging. Each story in the collection is a journey of insights. Transactions of Belonging is a unique, intense and gripping work of short fiction.

“In this debut collection, Jaya Padmanabhan has brought together a diverse and memorable group of characters from many kinds of background. With meticulous details and keen observation, she brings them in life and makes us care about them – their poverty, their loneliness, their tragedies and their triumph.” – Chitra Divakaruni, author of The Mistress of Spices and Oleander Girl.

Review: There comes a time when you select a book to read just by looking at the cover of the book and desperately wait to find out whether you have made a right choice. This is how I chose this book – A pair of eyes peering over a crumpled/ worn out piece of paper will make an intriguing read and trust me it did make an intriguing read. An anthology of twelve short stories, Transactions of Belonging is a spray of human emotions dipped with a touch of melancholy. 

A debut book with such diverse and unique stories shows the confidence the author has in her work which is evident with each and every story. 

Since this is a collection of stories, it would be apt to review each and every story rather than in entirety as a book. So here it goes:

The Fly Swatter – Rafat, who is the fly swatter to Manu Prasad, Minister of Social Justice, stands before Manu as his obedient bodyguard and comes a time when he falls to his inner desire which changes his course of being. A gripping story told eloquently. Overall – 4/5*

The Blue Arc – This is a story of a young girl who turns into a sex worker despite a strong family and educational background. The way the character of Shona is portrayed, confused on taking a first step towards her future which still stretched ahead is something which I liked. A story well told. Overall: 5/5*

Mustard Seeds – A story of a son labelled as Tamil Rebel who is having his last time before being freed forever to death. Overall: 4/5*

Strapped for Time – This story is about the sexual tension created between an old Mr. Raman and his housemaid, Rekha, for whom he waits expectantly every morning. But fate has something else to narrate. A story told with great subtlety about the sexual desires. Overall – 5/5*

Curtains Drawn – This is a every day story of a man abusing his wife and family in a drunken state. What kept me hooked is the narration. Overall:4/5*

His Curls – This is a story of a mom who feels that his son is a terrorist and her constant fear that he might eventually kill innocent people. A very gripping narration again. Overall: 5/5*

Neyyappams – This story is about a teenager who lands between religious rituals and his ignorance about it thus developing a sense of hatred against his father. A first story in the book which I felt could have been dealt with in a better way. But overall: 3.5/5

The Length of  A Breath – This is a story of a teenage girl having lost both her parents at a very tender age and now surviving with his younger brother under her uncle’s supervision. The way in which the issue of puberty in girls is handled makes the story more interesting to read. Overall: 5/5

The Little Matter of Fresh Meadows Feces – This story talks about people living abroad and how their parents back home lead their lives and their children turning foreigners in their own homes. A lovely tale. Overall: 4/5*

The Smell of Jasmine – This is a story of a rich woman who is sex starved. The ending of the story probably is left for the reader to take their cue as per their understandings. A very maturely handled story. 
Overall: 4/5*

Jumble – This is a story of a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl who falls in love. What comes is the struggle that religion attaches with it. A story told in a simple and a mature manner. Overall: 4/5*

Indian Summer – A bittersweet tale of a relation between a teenage daughter and her mother told extremely well. This story by far is my personal favourite. Overall: 5/5*

All the stories are very well written, gripping and leaving the readers for more and to do that in almost all the stories is something that fascinates me and shows the prowess of the author.

Overall: An extremely mature work that should not be missed!

Ratings: 5/5* 

Please Note: This is PR requested review, given for a free copy and not a paid review. All the opinions expressed in the review remain unbiased, unsolicited and my own.