Book Review: The Thief’s Funeral: The Book Review Anthology of Short Fiction

The Thief’s Funeral: The Book Review Anthology of Short Fiction is an anthology of stories penned by various authors. Anthologies, as I’ve come to realise, can be a mixed bag of experiences. Fortunately, The Thief’s Funeral as a whole was as captivating as the title. 

In ‘Feast of the Sacrifice,’ Paresh Tiwari drew me in with his beautiful descriptive writing. He transported me to gritty streets where I witnessed the complexities of life unfold in the mundane yet profound moments of everyday existence. This short story navigates the themes of identity, belonging, sacrifice, redemption, and resilience of the human spirit. 

I loved Armaan Verma’s ‘Not A Day For Outings.’ This richly layered, fast-paced tale explores complex family dynamics in a home set amidst urban decay, familial bonds, and the lengths to which a mother would go to protect her daughter. 

Beating Loneliness,’ by Juanita Kakoty brought tears to my eyes. This thought-provoking short story addresses the quest for belonging in an ever-changing world, where loneliness is all one is left with. 

Ranjan Pal’s ‘Saved by the Terrorists’ is a seamless blend of the political and the personal. Skillfully building tension from the opening scene, Pal delves into fear, chaos, devastation, horror, psychological trauma, and survivor’s guilt.

C.Jayanti’s ‘Lata and the Mermaid’ is a detailed exploration of the protagonist’s inner turmoil amidst external expectations. As the narrative proceeds, we get to know Lata and her desires, societal pressures, turmoil, and resigned acceptance from close quarters. 

Pic Credit: Aleph

Oh, how my heart broke when I read ‘The Anklet on her Left Foot.’ In this character-driven story, Ipsita Mishra explores friendship, the complexities of human relationships, resilience, and the search for warmth. 

In ‘Spirited Nights’ by Vikram Balagopal the blend of reality and fantasy is so smooth, that it lingered in my mind until much later. While the themes addressed are not untouched or unique, the author’s lyrical prose is truly enchanting.

Leisangthem Gitarani Devi’s ‘The Smell of Joipur’ captures the essence of Yaoshang. Devi not only captures the spirit of the festival, but also explores the themes of friendship, adolescence, gender discrimination, and societal pressures faced by girls. While the story is insightful, the narrative style left me wanting.  

Neera Kashyap’s ‘Reflections on a Common Journey’ is a moving exploration of drug abuse, family dynamics, and the journey of healing. Kashyap’s immersive prose offers a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness. 

‘The Pimp’ by Subhash Chandra is a harsh portrayal of life in the red-light district of New Delhi. The author takes a deep dive into the squalor, exploitation, and moral ambiguity faced by the residents of this area. 

Jobeth Ann Warjri’s ‘Megalomania’ is a glimpse into the mind of a narcissistic character. I was drawn into this chilling exploration of the darker facets of human psychology. I am not surprised that this was the winning story. It leaves a lasting impression!

The Patient’ by Sourabh Mukherjee is a riveting exploration of the twisted depths of the human psyche. It doesn’t get darker than this! Mukherjee’s masterful creation plunges the readers into a tense atmosphere, full of unease and unexpected twists! The intense dialogues and vivid descriptions bring out the protagonist’s unchecked obsession bordering on madness. This one is another of my favourites!

The Tenant’ by Rachita Raj is a compelling psychological thriller delving into the themes of paranoia, and isolation and is supported by evocative storytelling. The moments of chilling suspense, unexpected twists, and the final reveal made for a wonderful reading experience. 

When the Sun Falls from the Sky’ by Anuradha Vijayakrishnan is an intimate narration of the pursuit of hope amidst adversity. The dialogues and internal monologues aptly depict the characters’ emotions and experiences. Reading this story felt as if I were witnessing their journey unfold before my eyes. 

Mohammad Salman’s ‘The Thief’s Funeral’ is another personal favourite. Salman’s narrative paints a vivid picture of a village marred by poverty, privilege, power play, and prejudice. Backed by rich character development and imagery, this riveting story is a testament to complex human experiences and the power of forgiveness and redemption. 

Madhulika Liddle’s ‘A New Home for Bhainsa’ explores societal issues, cow vigilantism, and generational divide while capturing the nuances of a rural setting and intricate family relationships. The vivid character portrayal and easy-flowing dialogues made for an unforgettable reading experience. 

Return to Life,’ by Muddasir Ramzan is a poignant exploration of life and faith against the backdrop of a futuristic life on Mars. Religious identity, clash of cultures, search for meaning, and human resilience are a few other themes woven into the narration. 

‘Her Day’ by Santanu Das is a painfully sad story revolving around an aged widow as she experiences a moment of existential crisis. The narrator yearns to connect with her old self, desires, and aspirations, and the author brings out this aspect beautifully by using a red bindi as a motif. Das highlights the protagonist’s thoughts about her physical experience, societal norms, internalized beliefs, and the never-ending search for meaning and fulfillment in life. 

Shalim Hussain’s ‘The Pumpkin Eaters’ is a captivating allegorical tale exploring unchecked human greed. Blending elements of satire, social commentary, and folklore, the author sheds light on societal decay and environmental degradation. 

The Thief’s Funeral: The Book Review Anthology of Short Fiction is a testament to the power of storytelling while celebrating literary diversity. The collection is not just entertaining, but thought-provoking and enriching too. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy short stories or those seeking narratives that expand our understanding of the complexities of life.  

Rating: 4/5

Review author: Chandra Sundeep is an author, blogger, and book reviewer. Her short stories have been featured in various anthologies, online portals, and literary magazines. In 2023, she received the Bharat Award, recognizing her dedication to impactful storytelling. Additionally, she has been a recipient of esteemed awards such as the Asian Literary Society’s Sagar Memorial Award, Wordsmith Award, and Gitesh-Biva Memorial Award in 2021 and 2022.

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