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Aerogrammes: and Other Stories
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012
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From the acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns, a bravura collection of short stories—set, by turns, in London, Sierra Leone, and the American Midwest—that captures the yearning and dislocation of young people around the world. • “Funny, deeply tender, and each-and-every-one memorable.” —Nathan Englander, bestselling author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges

In “Light & Luminous,” a gifted instructor of Indian dance falls victim to the vanity and insecurities that have followed her into middle age. In “The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor,” a damaged young man obsessively studies his father’s handwriting in hopes of making sense of his suicide. And in “What to Do with Henry,” a white woman from Ohio takes in the illegitimate child her husband left behind in Sierra Leone, as well as an orphaned chimpanzee who comes to anchor this strange new family. With Aerogrammes, Tania James once again introduces us to a host of delicate, complicated, and beautifully realized characters who find themselves separated from their friends, families, and communities by race, pride, and grief.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/15/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307957474
ASIN:
B005O1BXBU

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Tania James. (2012). Aerogrammes: and Other Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Tania James. 2012. Aerogrammes: And Other Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Tania James, Aerogrammes: And Other Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Tania James. Aerogrammes: And Other Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: TANIA JAMES is the author of the novels The Tusk That Did the Damage and Atlas of Unknowns and the short story collection Aerogrammes. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, One Story, A Public Space, and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Washington, D.C.
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publishDate
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title
Aerogrammes
fullDescription
From the acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns, a bravura collection of short stories—set, by turns, in London, Sierra Leone, and the American Midwest—that captures the yearning and dislocation of young people around the world. • “Funny, deeply tender, and each-and-every-one memorable.” —Nathan Englander, bestselling author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges

In “Light & Luminous,” a gifted instructor of Indian dance falls victim to the vanity and insecurities that have followed her into middle age. In “The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor,” a damaged young man obsessively studies his father’s handwriting in hopes of making sense of his suicide. And in “What to Do with Henry,” a white woman from Ohio takes in the illegitimate child her husband left behind in Sierra Leone, as well as an orphaned chimpanzee who comes to anchor this strange new family. With Aerogrammes, Tania James once again introduces us to a host of delicate, complicated, and beautifully realized characters who find themselves separated from their friends, families, and communities by race, pride, and grief.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Nathan Englander
      • content: "Tania James' stories are funny, deeply tender, and each-and-every-one memorable. Aerogrammes is a gift of a collection from a talent who only grows."
      • premium: False
      • source: Karen Russell
      • content: "By turns rib-shakingly funny and poignant, pinwheeling and wise, these stories are always devastatingly candid when it comes to their central preoccupations: exile and identity, the fault lines inside a family, grief and love... Proof that the short story is joyfully, promiscuously, thrillingly alive."
      • premium: False
      • source: Romesh Gunesekera
      • content: "These are stories that map out a fresh new world between America and South Asia with a rare blend of humor and sensitivity. Surprising and affecting."
      • premium: False
      • source: Junot Díaz
      • content: "From an Indian wrestler in 1910 England to a marrying ghost who plots a return to flesh, James writes the kind of stories I've always loved, by turns absurd and hilarious but also deeply consequential. James has got range and a phenomenal heart. Not to be missed."
      • premium: False
      • source: San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: "First-rate...James' prose is clean, deep, limpid; the stories she builds throw strange, beautiful light on completely unexpected places...real, fresh and worthy."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: "Agile...authentic and deftly drawn."
      • premium: False
      • source: Huffington Post
      • content: "Like all great fiction, James's stories emerge from a strange and beautiful source of inspiration, then proceed to transcend it...still and elegant."
      • premium: False
      • source: DBC Reads
      • content: "Jam-packed and hectically lovely...flawless."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from February 6, 2012
        Although most of the characters in these nine immaculately crafted short stories share a common native land—Kerala in southern India—their range of emotions is brilliantly diverse. Yet they all feel adrift in an alien culture, no matter how much time they have spent in the West. James (Atlas of Unknowns) understands the nuances of emotional displacement. In the title story, retired grocer Hari Panicker has a “hollow feeling... sitting in the fading light of a foreign room,” the retirement home where his son has consigned him. James displays a comic bent in “The Scriptological Review,” where a nerdy American teenager, Vijay, mourns his dead father by making his mother’s life miserable with his obsessive focus on producing a journal of handwriting analysis. There is poignancy in Vijay’s deep-seated fear of the culture that drove his father to suicide. In the moving “Light & Luminous” a middle-aged teacher of Indian classical dance is forced to include her ungainly, dark-skinned grandniece in a talent contest, leading her to discover that she shares the girl’s misery. Only the final story, “Girl Marries Ghost,” in which a grieving young American widow enters a lottery to marry a dead man, misses the target that the other stories unerringly hit. Agent: Nicole Aragi, the Aragi Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2012
        A well-turned set of stories defined by emotional and physical separation, particularly in the Indian-American diaspora. James' fine debut novel, Atlas of Unknowns (2009), was a continent-hopping tale that tracked the divergent lives of two Indian sisters with wit and a lightly comic touch. Her debut story collection displays a similar approach, and she enthusiastically tests how her style can function in a variety of settings. The two most inventive stories study human emotions in nonhuman contexts. "What to Do With Henry" follows a chimpanzee's travels from Sierra Leone to the United States, where he builds an uncanny bond with a woman and her adopted daughter; as the chimp struggles for his place in a zoo's pecking order, James crafts a clear (but unforced) allegory of our own human strivings. Likewise, the closing "Girl Marries Ghost" imagines a society where people who are desperate for companionship can marry ghosts, who are eager to spend a little time back in the real world; James' portrait of one such marriage is a seriocomic expose of our craving for order set against our inability to let go of our messy pasts. The other stories deal in culture clashes, mostly featuring Indian Americans, but for James ethnicity isn't the sole source of conflict. The Indian dance teacher in "Light & Luminous," for instance, is defined as much by her sense of personal pride as her growing feeling that her art is out of step with the times. In the title story, the protagonist (who has the evocative last name of Panicker) is deciding whether his fellow nursing home residents are more embracing than his family. At every turn, James' prose is crisp, observant and carefully controlled; unlike the narrator of "Escape Key," who grows increasingly aware of his fiction's shortcomings, James projects a deep emotional intelligence.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2011

        From the widower who resolves his grief by lovingly burying roadkill to a white woman who takes in her husband's illegitimate child from Sierra Leone and an orphaned chimpanzee, James examines people dealing forthrightly with setbacks. If this collection is as good as her accomplished Atlas of Unknowns, it will be good indeed.

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        March 15, 2012
        Fleeting ties and temporary alliances underscore James' zestful exploration of the elusive connections inherent to most relationships, be they parent-child, husband-wife, or teacher-student. In locations both exotic and banal, each of James' stories precisely delineates the impermanence of such associations while deftly appraising the joy and misery to be found in them. Long-sought-after fame and redemption are bestowed in a distressing way to an Indian wrestler competing for a world championship in the opening story, Lion and Panther in London, while an orphaned girl and a rescued chimpanzee form an unlikely bond as they separately struggle to attain a sense of belonging in the dazzling What To Do with Henry. Brothers bound by physical hardship gingerly cross painful emotional terrain in Escape Key, and a cantankerous, elderly widower discovers forbearance in the title story. Lushly exploring themes of identity and recognition, singularity and community, James crafts taut, complete worlds populated by complex yet recognizable characters who ultimately achieve catharsis and obtain enlightenment, often through unplanned and unconventional methods.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2012

        A skilled storyteller and author of the well-received Atlas of Unknowns, James investigates with compassion and humor the indignities of aging, disability, and alienation at various stages of life. With a varied cast of insecure, shameful, sometimes obsessed characters, James takes the reader from 1910 London to present-day Sierra Leone, Kentucky, and the Midwest yet keeps her focus firmly on commonalities rather than how people are different. In the heartbreaking "What To Do with Henry," James brings together an orphaned chimpanzee, a retired teacher from Ohio, and a child from Sierra Leone fathered by her husband to form a family of sorts from their individual losses. "Ethnic Ken" is an excruciating story about a preteen who is "too old for dolls" yet is fixated on getting a Ken to go with her Barbie and mortified by her odd but kindly grandfather. The title story is set in a retirement community that has been thoroughly rejected by a newcomer, Mr. Panicker, until he is befriended by an occasionally demented woman and considers his limited alternatives. VERDICT This is a satisfying collection for lovers of short fiction from a refreshingly authentic new voice. [See Prepub Alert, 11/14/11.]--Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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From the acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns, a bravura collection of short stories—set, by turns, in London, Sierra Leone, and the American Midwest—that captures the yearning and dislocation of young people around the world. • “Funny, deeply tender, and each-and-every-one memorable.” —Nathan Englander, bestselling author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges

In “Light & Luminous,” a gifted instructor of Indian dance falls victim to the vanity and insecurities that have followed her into middle age. In “The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor,” a damaged young man obsessively studies his father’s handwriting in hopes of making sense of his suicide. And in “What to Do with Henry,” a white woman from Ohio takes in the illegitimate child her husband left behind in Sierra Leone, as well as an orphaned chimpanzee who comes to anchor this strange new family....
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