Thursday, 10 December 2020

Happimess by Biswajit Banerji is way beyond a short story collection – an opinion

I have been reading short story collections for many years now and this year has not been an exception. I have read about 4 short story collections this year and two of them were by Indian authors. One was by Dr Prema Raghavan and another was by Biswajit Banerji, the author of Happimess, a short story collection that comes with a promise to surprise you, at the very beginning.


And it does what it promises to do. Without spoiling any part of the reading pleasure that readers may extract from Hapimess, let me brief about the book in this article.

Generally, we expect short stories to be emotional or rational or something that can just be deemed normal. However, in Biswajit Banerjee's short story collection, you will seldom find normal being depicted... the themes and dots of incidents that combine together to make a short story are normal, very normal things around us that come together to build the idea we call life. However, in short stories, these incidents, emotions, expressions and many other things combine to give us the picture that we seldom get in literature – perhaps, the other side of the moon of humanity!

The very first short story, from the collection of 13, is an introduction that is also very abnormal or a journey into the den of ideas that the author wants his readers to see (witness). Biswajit writes:

"For me, humour remains the last resort of a
failed reformist. The humorist wallows in the belief that it is generally useless and sometimes dangerous to try reforming the world which is hell-bent on making a complete ass of itself."

Though this idea does not lead to cynicism, you can find a kind of unfriendly sarcasm in the stories that you will read. You will have a fair share of laughter, to be sure. You will also have many opportunities to think seriously. However, one thing is sure – you will get to read very interestingly narrated stories. You can also sense the presence of the author in almost all the stories because they are all narrated by the protagonist himself and that almost gives away the fact that Biswajit or his handpicked character is taking control of the narrative.

Such short stories collection, if not rare, are certainly appearing on a very low frequency. We get to read only those flowery pieces of literature that almost push us, by force, into the comfort zone that we don't always want. Biswajit Banerji's Happimess almost challenges the readers to think differently and I am sure you will be happy if you take the challenge. Read these short stories and find out what makes them odd, different and weird enough to be more than simply interesting or told too many times... Do enjoy reading this unique collection. All the best!

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