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Saturday, 8 September 2012

My Favourite Short Stories

Every time I try to write a short story, I stare at the question as to what makes a good short story. The inimitable Khushwant Singh remarks  "A short story is in fact a short story and not a novella or an abridged novel. It revolves around one or two characters or at most three and does not have a long list of dramatis personae as in novels. It is limited in time and space and does not span decades or spread out in different locales. It also has a well formulated central theme and does not touch upon several topics or clashes of personalities. It has a distinct beginning, a build up and usually a dramatic end, frequently an unexpected one which sums up the story." 

I am an absolute lover of short stories. I'll give up a novel for a collection of short stories, any day. There is something about a short story that strikes a vital chord. I don't have to be hooked to the book for long and yet have a chance at a memorable read. All vital sentiments and experiences distilled into distinctly few characters whose story is told seamlessly and without undue protraction. I've nothing against novella. But I prefer short stories. Reading short stories is like having fast food without all the health hazards yet with the same nutrition as normal food.

At long last I found the opportunity and, more importantly the required span of time, to compile the list of my favorite short stories. I do not adore or despise any particular genre of story telling. However any story which is told in an indulging narrative and reflects man's life experiences, especially crisis of spirit in the many myriad tribulations of life touch me the most. I must tell you that the fact that this list is not very long should not imply that I only like this many stories from all that I've read. There are so many stories that remain etched in my mind that this post could require a number of monotonous scrolling to reach to the end of it. Nor do I consider my self to be in any position, other than that of a mere reader, to declare the greatness or otherwise of any story written by masters of the craft. I'm not even a speck of dust in their world.

Therefore this list should kindly not be mistaken as my approval or disapproval of the timeless works of any author. The truth remains that this list contains only those stories which moved me in a way that no other could, so far. It has nothing to do with criticism or analysis. It's purely a personal choice more because of my own unique life experiences, than any other reason, which I could relate to while reading them.


(The order of listing has nothing to do with my degree of admiration)


  • Friends & Strangers by Manoj Das 
  • The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
  • Karma by Khushwant Singh
  • A Bride For The Sahib by Khushwant Singh
  • Before The Law by Franz Kafka
  • The Judgment by Franz Kafka
  • Life's Horoscope by Khushwant Singh
  • After Twenty Years by O Henry
  • The Story of Ivan The Fool by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Misty Hour by Manoj Das
  • The Last Leaf  by O' Henry
  • The Concubine by Manoj Das
  • The Vengeance by  Manoj Das
  • An Astrologer's Day by R.K. Narayan
  • The Blind Dog by R.K. Narayan
  • Attila by R.K. Narayan
  • The Tiger In The Tunnel by Ruskin Bond
  • Those Thirty Minutes by Krishan Chander (Translated from Hindi by Jai Ratan)
  • A Home Near The Sea by Kamala Das
  • The Face On The Wall by E.V. Lucas
  • Sparrows by  K.A. Abbas
  • The Birth Of  A Poem by Amrita Pritam (Translated from Punjabi by G.S.P. Suri)
  • Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry

I hope to add to the list, many more stories, as I keep reading. 

Please feel free to share your favourite short stories. I'd love to read them, if I haven't so far.

Here are a few short stories I 've written. Read them at your leisure and let me know your favourite, if any. (Read my short stories here)




59 comments:

  1. this was so good to read...i dream of writing a good story..but that is quite an art....

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    1. Keep working at it Sreeja. My Best Wishes

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  2. Nice post Anupam .. I dont read much, I haven't read any of them... Whatever I have read .. I think all the stories of 'Interpreter of Maladies' were brilliant but out of them 'A Temporary Matter' was awesome...

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    1. Thanks for reading Amit.

      I totally agree that'Interpreter of Maladies' is a splendid collection of short stories. 'A Temporary Matter' and "Interpreter of Maladies' are my favourites in that book too. I read it in the early days of my 11th standard. The poignant depiction of the disintegrating relationship between Shoba and Shukumar, in "A Temporary Matter" troubled my head for a pretty long time. As did the shocking confession of Mrs Das before their tour guide in "Interpreter of Maladies'. It was very unforgettable read for me back in those times when I barely found time to read fiction beyond the prescribed literature books of college syllabus.

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    2. "Interpreter of Maladies" is my favorite one too as also all the short stories of Chitra Banerjee :)

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  3. The last one is excellent :)

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    1. Yes, "The Gift Of The Magi" by William Sydney Porter (O Henry) depicts the story of love and sacrifice besides reaffirming the value of a loving gift, not to mention a typical O Henry style ending.

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  4. Hi... I too love writing short stories when my mind sparks with good theme.. I wrote few short stories in Tamil. I try to translate some time later. Keep going...on writing short stories.

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  5. that's an awesome post anupam :)
    I have read - The selfish giant - by oscar wilde - it was damn cute
    The last leaf -by O'henry -quite tragic but loved the story plot
    and my fav is The gift of magi - by O'henry love it to the core :) :)

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    1. I'm glad that we share the same favourite short stories. Thanks for reading Vinisha

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  6. Some of these were part of the English text books at school..O Henry's Gift Of Magi and The Tiger in The tunnel... Nice list out there...and I have read the ones by R K Narayanan.

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    1. I know Jayashree. Just don't find such poignant and articulate way of story telling anymore.

      Thanks for reading Jayashree

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  7. Nice list there, should give it a try to some

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    1. Go ahead Harshal. Thanks for dropping by

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  8. I have read about 8-9 of them, but my favourite is from the master of Short Stories: O' Henry : The Gift of the Magi

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more Arnab. It's brilliant

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  9. Thats a great list ...I have read most of them ... great post Anupam ... Its been a long time since i read a Tolstoy or RK Narayan. Must grab a book .

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  10. Great list. Try 'Roog', by Philip K. Dick.

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    1. I guess he wrote science fiction. Anyways I'm surely gonna check it out. Thanks for the recommendation Shovon

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  11. Do read "just Married, Please Excuse"... not a classic material but funfilled one. :)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Indrani. Will surely read the book. I've been hearing good reviews abt it.

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  12. I've read some of these and, yes, brilliant reads these are. I loved Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka too.

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  13. Good list. You might have listed this story on Kasaab. MUST read this "Kahaani Kasaab Ki". Really interesting one. http://www.yourspj.com/kahaani-kasab-ki-short-story-by-sumit-s-chavan/

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  14. Excellent! thanks for the list. will try to get my hands on these! you could probably give out a list of novels too, Anupam?

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  15. Thank you Anupam for writing this post. Have been wanting to read some good short stories but could never zero down to which ones...this post has come as an answer to my very long unanswered confusion. thanks :)

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    1. You're welcome Himani. Do share what you felt after reading 'em.

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  16. Nice compilation...I seem to not recall any of them..may be should start reading again :)

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    1. Go ahead Ekta. You are likely to adore many of them.

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  17. Manoj Das is one of my favourite authors and have many fond memories. Though he was dad's classmate and our distant relative, we had few meetings. My earliest meeting with him that I remember is when I was in class 7th and he had come to our house. I really blushed, when he told me that "I heard you read a lot". I was in awe of him after reading his stories and hearing about him. Apart from the stories mentioned here, I also liked his "Mystery of the missing cap" where he talked about the politician's cap. I loved his travelogue "Dura duranta" as well, which was written in oriya.

    The story "After twenty years" had a big impact on me. Love the writings of Rusking Bond as well. He writes of a world long gone, and when I look at the present day Mussorie, I really feel sad at the ugly concretisation of the place.
    Sabyasachi

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    1. I'm glad to know that you had a personal rapport with Sri Das. It must have been splendid.

      I'm also delighted to know that you too adore "After Twenty Years".

      Thanks for reading this post and sharing your experiences, Sabyasachi.

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  18. I often like reading short stories as an introduction to a writer I do not know. And sometimes, when I just don't want to immerse myself in a novel. A novella somehow always leaves me unsatisfied, it is not one or the other. Thanks for the list. There are many collections here, I have not read.

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    1. I share your approach and ideas about short stories and novellas. I'm glad to know that you'd read stories from my list. Thanks for dropping by.

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  19. Thats a beautiful list.. thanks it makes my read easy and lovely post there Anupam! :)

    Do stop by my blog!! I'd love your visits & comments!

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  20. interesting list, wud try reading one of those :)

    www.styledestino.com

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  21. I not read any of these short stories. I somehow was never attracted to short stories. I have heard a lot of about interpreter of Maladies so will give it a shot.


    Lazy Pineapple

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    1. Yeah, IOM is a great collection of short stories

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  22. Hi. First time here. I like your list. Have read most of the ones by O'Henry. And 'face on the wall' is another superb short story. The ones I'd also recommend are 'Parson's Pleasure' by Roald Dahl, 'Dusk' by Saki and the short stories by Ismat Chugtai.

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    1. I've read "Housewife" by Ismat Chugtai (translated from Urdu by Fatima Ahmed). It's a pretty good one. I'll also read your other recommendations.

      Thanks

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  23. Good list.. tempted to write about my favorite... William Somerset Maugham, all his short stories end with a twist making your jaw drop...

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  25. Seems like a good list to follow. I have gone more into those big scary novels now and have forgotten the beautiful world of little stories. While in childhood, I used to read them a lot. Especially My favorite reads were folk tales from different cities of India, and that of Russia. Also most of the short stories were in Hindi. I have read "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde. And It was the story that brought me into tears 15-16 years back. It was soulful. I guess I should follow the list. Good one!

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    1. The Happy Prince is a very nice story.

      Go ahead and read the stories Shesha. I'm sure you'd like most of them.

      Thanks for sharing your experience

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  26. Hey!! I think that's a good list!! I am trying to write short stories too. I have bookmarked your page and will surely read your short stories soon. I love reading books and i've just started a blog for writing book reviews and so far, its such an enjoyable journey!! Here's the link incase you want to check it out, thebookishfoodiereviews.wordpress.com

    I'll be sure to let you know how i found the short story authors you suggested

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    1. Great Niyum!!!

      All the best with your short story writing. Do share them. Am definitely checking out your blog.

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  27. Reminded me of my own blog post from a few months ago ...
    http://shoooonya.blogspot.in/2012/06/power-of-short-stories.html

    Since last year, my own reading has gradually seen an increase in short stories count and it would continue like this for long. I have 2 thick volumes of short stories up for next year while hundreds by various authors in soft copy too. All lined up for reading. I usually read more than 20-22 every month now.

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    1. More than 20 - 22 a month. One voracious reader you are Hemant.
      Thanks for dropping by

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  28. Great list!! But, hey-no Jeffrey Archer???? One of my all time fave authors-short/long stories,I've read them all :)

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    1. My apologies Sweta. There are so many stories that remain etched in my mind that this post could require a number of monotonous scrolling to reach to the end of it. This list contains only those stories which moved me in a profound way mainly because of my own life expriences.

      I have read Jeffrey Archer's short story collection 'A Quiver Full of Arrows'. 'The Perfect Gentleman' remains particularly etched in my memory.

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