Book review - Urban Shots: Yuva

Urban Shots: Yuva marks the fifth short story anthology of the Urban Shots series after Urban Shots, Urban Shots: Crossroads, Urban Shots: Bright Lights (which I was lucky to be a part of) and Urban Shots: Love Collection.

Once more, we are given glimpses into a moment in time of various characters we 'regularly cross paths with' in our day to day activities here in India - from the divorced single mom to the cab driver out to make an extra buck, a widower moving on to a greedy family awaiting gifts from their NRI relatives.

Let me say this at the very beginning: I think this is easily the most matured anthology collection of the Urban Shots series.
The tagline on the cover proclaims 'Racy stories by young writers' and I have to agree. The stories here maybe told from the point of view of a young girl or an old ice cream seller but the themes range across an entire spectrum - child molestation, infidelity and poverty sit easily alongside lust, love and hope.

The level and art of story-telling too appears more elevated here and I guess that is to the credit of the individual authors. While a few do miss their mark while aiming to wow you (by perhaps being a little too abstract/open ended ?), the majority of the stories do succeed in conveying what they set out to do so.

Ones I truly enjoyed included (in no particular order) :

The Pillow Knows Our Secrets ( Hina Siddiqui ) - The course of an entire relationship and the insecurities that come with it are weaved beautifully alongside a single innocuous act that most of us guys are perhaps guilty of ignoring - the post-coital cuddle.



From Mother to Son ( Anant Tripathi ) - A mother writes a letter to the son she abandoned at an early age explaining why she left. This had the potential to be a cliche as the story unfolded but instead I enjoyed the way the letter ended.

Collateral Damage ( Adithya Narayan ) - One of the shorter stories, yet one of the more profound ones for me. A guy reminisces on the impact he had on a girl's life by being in a relationship with her. It does beg the question: by changing the person you care for to be the way you expect her to be, are you making her better... or worse?

Our Sunday ( Tnahsin Garg ) - One of the lighter stories in the anthology, we get a front view seat of a husband's life as he tries to enjoy his Sunday without it being disrupted by his wife and 'her plans'.

Shimmer ( Lipi Mehta, also the editor ) - Once more a superior story for its ability to weave themes within such a short span of words. The relationship between a mother and daughter as they age and how it is interlinked to the art of story telling and imagination is poignant at many levels.

Slut ( Hina Siddiqui again... a name to watch out for ) - A college girl finds herself being labelled a slut in spite of being the victim. First of all, I love how the protagonist deals with the situation and more importantly, this unwarranted labeling of people we don't know by casting aspersions on their reputation and character is a true mirror for the people of India today. There simply is no denying the truth.

Our Friend Junaid ( Aniket Dasgupta ) - Written in a very unique 'documentary' format, we get to find out more from those close to Junaid about what made him the friend, lover and activist he was. Kudos for creativity.

Pakodas and chutney ( Esha Vaish ) - As a young woman finds out more about the friendship between her single mother and the cranky ex-neighbour who still visits them every week, she realizes that all is not as it appears and also learns a valuable lesson for her own relationship.

The Ice Cream Man ( Arka Basu ) - As he goes about his daily route, an aging ice cream vendor reminisces on how times have changed over the last three decades and its effect on his profession.

The Book Signing ( Arka Basu once more ) - A perfect end to the book, it is about the feelings that most people would have when they see their previously timid friends now successful and making a name for themselves. Especially apt for the authors in today's Indian fiction market, methinks!

After a significant stay with another popular publishing group, the Urban Shots series is now with Rupa Publications and it gives me great pleasure to report that there is no fall in standard. The book cover, editing of stories (kudos to the ever effervescent Lipi Mehta ) and paper quality are all above the industry standards which has taken a beating in recent times. It is also heartening to note that space has been devoted at the end of the book exclusively to showcase the published authors as it offers the author the option to directly receive feedback for his work from readers across the country.

I definitely recommend this book.
As with all short story collections, I personally feel you will enjoy it more by not reading it from end to end at one go but savoring the myriad tales over a period of time. Its stories are concise, easy to read and a delight for those on-the-go who want something to read to fill a few moments between work. There are some very good new authors in that list with creative ideas and even poetic streaks in their well thought out prose.


You can buy the book at Amazon or Flipkart here or download the ebook here.


  

16 Comments

  1. I have read Urban Shots and enjoyed reading it. And Urban Shots Love Collection is staring at me from my 'library' cupboard. This reminds me that I must read that soon and must check the Yuva collection too. Thanks for sharing about it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha... I'm starting to think the series is getting better and better with each go. Try out the Love Collection.. it was pretty sweet too.

      Delete
  2. Was thinking yours would top the list in the ones you found interesting... :) Sounds like an awesome collection!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not in this one... and if u mean among the various books, well I'm definitely gonna be partial to that one :D But this is a pretty nice collection.. some very nice themes..

      Delete
  3. I throughly enjoyed Urban Shots. I am definitely going to pick this one up !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you liked Urban Shots, you will love this one.. it's way better if you ask me..

      Delete
  4. Unknown to me, but reading about those stories woke my curiosity - gonna go for this one Roshan! U made it too tempting:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you would love it... I liked most of the stories in it.

      Delete
  5. This is my first introduction to urban shots series through your post. Looks like one to try for sure :-)

    Richa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are quite a few others in the series... most are quite good as far as anthologies go.

      Delete
  6. Glad to see this warm review! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. E-book - yay!!! Will read :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes... available in e-book form too :D tell me what you thought of it.

      Delete
  8. AnonymousMay 26, 2014

    I love one of the versions Urban Shots: 28 Urban Tales edited by Paritosh Uttam which I got during one of my India trips way back in 2011. They were amazing and time to lay my hands on the latest. Your review makes it super interesting to read:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I personally felt the anthology series that have followed that first one have further improved upon it with better themes and writing talents as well.

      Delete

So what do you think ?