by Puloma Ghosh
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Pub Date 11 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 28 May 2024
Astra Publishing House, Astra House
In this debut collection, Puloma Ghosh uses the speculative as a catalyst to push her stories and characters beyond what reality allows. Exploring grief, intimacy, sexuality, and bodily autonomy, Mouth leans into the bizarre and absurd while reaching for the truth.
In "Dessication," a teen figure skater with necrophiliac tendencies is convinced the only other Indian girl at the rink is a vampire. A woman returns to Kolkata in “The Fig Tree,” where she is haunted by her deceased mother or a shakchunni, or both. “Nip” bottles up the consuming and addictive nature of infatuation while “Natalya” is a hair-raising autopsy of an ex-lover. And in “Persimmons,” a girl comes to terms with her own community sacrifice.
Blurring the lines of conventional reality and giving fangs, talons, and singular sharpness to the otherwise ordinary, awkward, and unmentionable, Mouth’s surrealism is both unique and captivating. Puloma Ghosh reaches into otherworldly spaces while exploring the everyday struggles of isolation, longing, and the aching desires of our flesh.
• Cover reveal on Astra House social media • National media campaign including print, radio, podcasts, and online coverage • Pitch for feature stories and profiles, as well as original pieces by the author • Select local author events and festivals • Target outreach to publications and reviewers focused on debuts, literary fiction, genre and speculative fiction, immigrant and first-generation American narratives, and surrealism • Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Pride Month push • Influencer outreach in social media channels with early ARC giveaways
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 10 members
"Bestiary meets The Dangers of Smoking in Bed." Say no more. I'm sold!
This is a great collection of short stories. The prose is beautiful and with each sentence I never knew what was coming next. And I love that. I also love the titles of all these stories.
I'd definitely recommend this collection to fans of Ottessa Moshfegh or Hiromi Kawakami, because the stories and writing reminded me of them at times. I've never read this author before but now I'll read literally anything she writes.
Here are my reviews for each story and a rating out of 10.
I liked the pacing of this story, and how all the different elements were balanced. The world building felt unobtrusive. I liked the backdrop of ice skating competitions. I love how the story is subtle even though it's very visceral and surreal.
The Fig Tree 5/10
I think I might have read this at the wrong time. I was a bit unfocused and maybe thats why I was a bit bored at parts of this story. I liked the descriptions of the environment and themes of grief.
Leaving Things 10/10
WOW! Wolf short stories are a bit of a cliche, but this story is very unique and well done. I loved the opening scene. The story has a good balance of internal and external conflict/stakes. Usually I prefer shorter stories but this was an exception. This was excellent.
I found the main character to be very unhinged but in a good way, in an interesting way. It could have been a bit shorter I think.
In the Winter 10/10
This was really good. I love a short and sweet story that is very sure of itself. It's the kind of story you can read many times and glean more from it with each read.
There's a lot to take in at the beginning of this story, and I was a bit overwhelmed, but it pays off nicely. Dystopian-ish short stories aren't usually my favourite but I'm so impressed by the world the author created here. She's very talented.
Lemon Boy 9/10
The character voice is really strong. I loved the party setting. This was just really interesting and unique.
I loved the second half of this story a lot more than the first half. The author is really good at creating worlds. It's not easy for short stories.
Again, I love a brief story. This was wacky in the best way possible.
WOW! This was crazy good. Like it's leagues above all the other stories in this collection so far and that's saying something because they've all been amazing.
This story is so special. It's one of those stories that shows just how awesome short fiction can be, and pushes it's limits and creates something amazing. The prose really shines in this story. It was noticeably much stronger than in some of the other stories. There's a lot of flashbacks, an unconventional amount, but it worked so well and felt natural, and it wasn't jarring at all. The author pulled it off so well. This is officially an all time favourite short story.
This is a good story. For some reason I just struggled to want to read it. There are some super cool paragraphs and imagery in here. I liked the ending.
A NetGalley ARC review
If I could give this book 100 stars, I would. I had a fantastic time with these weird, horrifying short stories, that feature (sometimes) far too relatable characters dealing with loneliness and isolation. The prose was stunning and had me highlighting like crazy. I look forward to anything Puloma Ghosh writes in the future and will absolutely be picking up a hard cover to annotate when it releases . I don't even have the words for a long review because I have no criticism, this was perfect.
Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC. This book was such a fun collection of weird and horrifying stories that were so entertaining. Not one was dull and the characters were all so fleshed out and crafted extremely well. The prose was beautiful and precise. A great collection of short stories, 5/5 stars.
Okay. I loved this. I truly did. Each story could have been longer to be honest and I would have eaten it up lol
Desiccation - 4/5 - what an opening!
The Fig Tree - 2/5 didnt love this one as thst opener but well written
Leaving Things - 5/5?????? Looooool I loved this. Damn I'd honestly read a full story of it.
K - 4/5?? Or 3.75?? I wonna know more. I wonn know wtf went on
In the Winter - same as above but maybe 4 because despite it being the shortest so far, I wonna know what the hell he was and what happened
Anomaly - 3/5 all of these could be an episode of Black Mirror but this one specifically felt like an episode.
Lemon Boy - same as above with the Black Mirror feeling 3.25 /5
Supergiant - 2/5???
Nip - this was a trip lol I reread it twice lol maybe 3.75??
Natalya - not my fave 2/5
Persimmons - 2.25/5
Overall the writing I adored. I loved how each story had something shocking, sad, disturbing, you name it, I'm so so so happy to have went for this to review. Wow.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC to review
What a spectacular debut... Puloma Ghosh's Mouth is a collection of eleven genre-defying, poignant stories each connected by literal and metaphorical references to mouths. Although none of the stories take place in the world we know (there's always a surreal twist), each piece feels resoundingly familiar. Ghosh is able to go for the jugular, assessing the affect of the times with frightening clarity. Every story touches on what it means to experience loss, alienation, and loneliness—feelings that I know many of us can relate to, especially after the global pandemic.
In one story, a girl grapples with her place in the world after the government commandeers every man over the age of eighteen while she falls for a fellow figure skater with an appetite for rats. In another, a yellow-haired boy recounts the death of his girlfriend, her presence at a party, and the curious appearance of holes. In yet another, a woman decides to remain in a city on the brink of collapse as it becomes overrun by wolves.
Ghosh's stories are engaging, sapphic, creative, bizarre, and (at times) darkly humorous. The author's literary prowess is clear. All the stories compliment one another well and help illuminate aspects of one another. I read the collection in a single sitting. Reading these stories scratched an itch that I didn't know I had, I can't recommend it enough. Mark your calendars!
Thank you to Astra Publishing House and Netgalley for a chance to review the ARC!
"Mouth" is unlike anything I've read. As soon as I finished I wanted to reread it. All of the stories are grounded in reality but have supernatural/sci-fi elements. All of the stories had me asking myself "what the hell just happened?", but in the best way! The stories are bizarre, horrific, sometimes sad, and always beautiful. My favorite stories were "Desiccation", "Leaving Things", "K", "Anomaly", "Nip", and "Natalya".
I especially loved that many of the stories were queer. The stories are grounded so much in the queer experience and Ghosh beautifully and uniquely presented it in all its pain and all it's glory.
Do yourself and favor and give "Mouth" a chance. I admit that this book may not be for everyone but I think if you take the time to sit with each story you will find the beauty in all of them.
Puloma Ghosh's "Mouth" comprises eleven stories that defy genres, each intricately linked by both literal and metaphorical references to mouths. While none of the narratives unfolds in our familiar reality—each bearing a surreal twist—there's an underlying resonance in every piece. Ghosh fearlessly delves into the essence of our times, offering a chillingly clear assessment of its impact. The stories, though otherworldly, explore universal themes of loss, alienation, and loneliness, emotions that many of us can deeply connect with, especially in the aftermath of the global pandemic.
Ghosh's stories are not only engaging but also richly creative, bizarre, and occasionally darkly humorous. The author's literary prowess shines through, and the stories complement each other seamlessly, shedding light on various facets. I devoured the entire collection in one sitting; reading these stories scratched an itch I didn't know I had and got me out of a really bad reading slump.
I wholeheartedly recommend it
I love a weird book and this one definitely hit the mark. There was not a single one of the short stories that I didn't enjoy. Bizarre, spooky, funny, disturbing, a great debut collection, and a pleasure to read. Looking forward to what comes next from Puloma Ghosh!
This collection is SO right up my street, I think I have found a new favourite/auto-buy author? And that based on her debut?? Incredible. And finding a short story collection in which I *love* and the rest which I really enjoyed too, is like finding a pair of shoes that fit your feet perfectly. Walking on air.
Mouth is a collection of stories in various styles: ontemporary fiction with some heavy subjects that are dealt with beautifully, mystery, horror, intrigue, suspense, dystopia, science fiction - and all of it in short stories that are so elegantly composed that you get lost in them within sentences, and resurface with a feeling of amazement and wonder. Also: (some of) this shit is so weiiiird. Exactly the kind of weird that floats my literary boat.
Favourite stories (in order of appearance)
🌳 The Fig Tree
Touches upon grief, displacement and otherness so beautifully. I was transported and found myself moved by her journey, and I lovewd the mythological aspects.
🐺 Leaving Things
Intriguing! Dystoping! Transformative! I am obsessed with this story and the wolfish element in it, that had a surprising turn of events.
I was terrified reading this story and I was happy it was done but also so impressed with how scared I got over a short story.
This reminded me a lot of Loki (which I am currently in the middle of season 2 of) so needless to say I loved the dystopian/timeline narrative and g(h)osh does she write well to create a whole new world and make it so incredibly easy to get into in a short story???
🍹 Lemon Boy
I was as obsessed with the whole holes thing as they were.
This was EXQUISITE. Favourite story of the collection.
If I haven't convinced you to pre-order this book and keep an eye out for this author, I urge you to do so.