I Am an Executioner: Love Stories by Rajesh Parameswaran

A quick rundown… A collection of very powerful short stories.

Strengths: These are the types of short stories that leave you thinking about them for days.

Weaknesses: You’ll think about them for days!

Why I read it: Sent to me by Bloomsbury – thank you.

Pages: 260

Published: 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Setting: Variable – from historic India to futuristic outer space

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

If you liked this, try: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

I received this book as part of a lovely surprise collection from Bloomsbury and jumped into it straight away as my daily public transport read. I don’t mind reading short stories in this way as I can generally get a story finished in one or two trips. Some of these stories took a little longer as they are incredibly powerful and demand reflection!

You may be wondering why this book is called I Am an Executioner Love Stories – surely that’s incorrect? But no, that kind of juxtaposition is exactly what you get with these stories – they are stories of love, yet sometimes with death involved. The first story, The Infamous Bengal Ming is about a tiger who suddenly realises his love for his keeper – and kills him. I Am an Executioner deals with the sometimes difficult marriage of the chief executioner. Demons looks at why a wife leaves her dead husband on the floor and goes to a party. The final story, On the Banks of Table River (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) deals with sex leading to death in another lifeform. Are the two events so entwined? Parameswaran deals with their linkage in many different situations.

I must admit that sometimes I found these stories overwhelming with the emotions they made me feel and the questions I thought about while reading – in the case of the tiger, is killing your lover the utmost sign of love? Is pretending to be someone you aren’t a betrayal if you do it correctly? In the case of the secret agent, how much do you hide from your partner and how far will you go to break the rules? These stories hide big life questions behind the narrative.

Parameswaran certainly knows how to pack a literary punch in a short amount of words. His use of language to create setting and character makes even faraway planet life sound believable (and I’m normally not one for science fiction). In addition, I really did believe that a tiger and an elephant were telling me their stories! I admire the author for creating the believable from the not so believable. Unique and captivating.

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