Quarantine by Rahul Mehta

Quarantine:  Stories  by Rahul Mehta
Published:  2011 by Harper Perennial
Source:  Received from publisher for review
  I have to admit that I have not read a lot of short stories and I don’t know why.  The logical side of me thinks that having a book of short stories around would be ideal when I want to read but don’t have enough time or inclination for something longer.  In addition, the curiosity seeker in me should be more inclined to short stories that allow me smaller glimpses into topics that spark my interest.

  This short story collection by Rahul Mehta, Quarantine, attracted me initially because of the fact the author is Indian-American and I am drawn to literature of the Indian diaspora (have I ever mentioned that I have eclectic tastes?).  This collection was made even more interesting (and curious) to me when I saw that it was about gay Indian-American men and I wanted to look into that life.

  My expectations of the stories were that they would be about families’ shame and embarassment with having a homosexual in the family, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was not in any of the stories.  My pre-conceived notion of Indian families being rigidly conservative and not willing to accept anything outside of their traditional view of family life was definitely removed.  Though all of the stories have gay men as their main characters, the themes of the stories — family loyalties, romantic relationships, cultural differences — are ones that we all can relate to.  My favorite story of the collection is “The Cure”, a story about a man who compulsively burns cash; to him, money does not change anything. 

  The stories might not be for everyone, as there are some explicit scenes, but they were for me a fascinating and eye-opening window into this community.  And I hope to find some more story collections to do the same.

  Recommended.

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