Ten very short novels

Peter Griffin
Updated: Jan 14, 2013 04:33:49 AM UTC

I handle the 'Life' section of Forbes India. In previous lives, I was an advertising creative director, voice-over artist, RJ, TV host, web producer and content architect, freelance travel writer, columnist, and consultant to NGOs. I've been blogging since 2003, and co-founded the South-East Asia Tsunami & Earthquake and Mumbai Help blogs (which, with other similar initiatives later became the WorldWideHelp group), and the writers’ community, Caferati. I'm a keen student of collaboration and online culture. I also co-curated the Literature section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival from 2006 to 2012. Aside from Twitter (link below), you could also follow me on Facebook or Google+.

In India, the culture world seems to wake up in the cooler months. In recent years, the literature scene has had the usual book launches joined by a plethora of literature festivals and, even more recently, a bevy of book prizes. A couple of weeks ago, I invited the nominees for the Crossword Book Awards to write us some TwitFic, or Twitter Fiction: complete stories in 140 characters or less. (You can read them all here.) That was so much fun, that I decided that we'd do it again.

So I asked a number of authors to celebrate NaNoWriMo (which has nothing to do with a Tata Motors vehicle or a certain chief minister) with some more Tweet-sized novels. And was quite delighted with the variety of what came in. Each one has a distinct authorial voice, each one, like the best senryu, speaks volumes in just a few syllables, conjuring up in the reader's mind back story, motivations, scenery, atmosphere, each one... but never mind me and my inability to be as concise as these folks. Here they are, in the order that they came in. Enjoy.


This spring they came in as lovers, next spring they’ll go out as wheat, their blood in the canals, their corpses beneath. The fields weep.

~ Manjul Bajaj, author of Come, Before Evening Falls and Another Man’s Wife.


Paleskin. Darkeye. Gimletglance: lethal. I hid - hearthammer, shockpulse – waiting to pass. It takes one to know one, to no one: sharpteeth.

~ Anita Roy, senior editor at Zubaan


Snooping about, he overheard a deadly plot being hatched. Was caught - and defenestrated. Eavesdropped, so to say.

~ Madhulika Liddle, author of The Englishman's Cameo and The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries.


She spun her web, did the dance and death followed her, entranced. Forever intertwined, the only tears? A daughter left behind disconsolate.

~ Amrita Tripathi (@amritat), author of Broken News. [Amrita is also a colleague: she is a CNN-IBN Special Correspondent.]


Here lies me. I was all that was, is. I loved, was loved, lived for love, loved to live. You are me. And so much more (whew : ) Peace. --God.

Anil Menon (@digitanil), author of The Beast With Nine Billion Feet, editor of Breaking the Bow (co-editor, Vandana Singh).


Playing in her mum’s lab, she accidentally created a creature that could walk and talk. ‘Bad robot,’ said her mum, and removed her battery.

~ Arunava Sinha (@arunava), award-winning translator of classic and contemporary Bengali fiction/ [Arunava is also a colleague at Network18: he heads IBNlive.com & CricketNext.com.]


VENGEANCE: I luvd an alien monster. It luvd me 2. But Mum h8ed it. So it 8 Mum : ( Then I h8ed it : ( So I 8 it. Now I'll die 2. But happy : )

~ Manjula Padmanabhan (@magnolialotus), author of Harvest, Escape, and Getting There, artist/illustrator, and creator of Suki, who continues to make appearances on her blog. [She is also a ForbesLife India columnist and an occasional contributor to Forbes India.]


She met her at a bookstore, at the shelf of drowned women. One held Woolf in her arms and the other Plath. Their eyes held untold stories.

~ Janice Pariat (@janicepariat), author of Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories. [She has also written for Forbes India.]


Friends had set them up, but the date wasn’t going well. Why so quiet, he asked, to fill the void. She responded, M nt used 2 spkng lyk u r

~ Aniruddha Sen Gupta (@anniesen), author of the Fundoo 4 series of children's adventure books.


The Taj is so wasteful, so cruel, the writer said. When his wife died, he showed great restraint, only buying olives for another woman.

~ Amitava Kumar @amitavakumar), author of, most recently, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb.


Let us know what you think, in the comments, or on Twitter. And, for those of the contributing authors who are on Twitter (not all are), you can let them know directly by clicking through to their IDs.

We plan to do at least one more set of these before the lit season gives way to summer. Watch this space!

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