Cover Image: Baby Doll: Stories

Baby Doll: Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Gracy is a Malayalam female author, she has received many literary prizes for her works, but unfortunately I was most ignorant about Malayalam. I'm often in business relations with Indian colleagues, but I had no clue Malayalam is one of the 22 common languages of India, and I for sure couldn't place it on a map. I learnt that it is the language of Kerala, a province of 40m people at the southern tip of India.

The collection comprises almost 36 stories, and I read 26 of them. I mostly felt lost at sea, thrown into situations I didn't understand and missing the cultural context. For many stories women were victims of sexual violence or other abuse. The dark tones were not a problem in itself (I read plenty of violent books), but I sort of missed the point of them. I was surprised to see references to Christianity in addition to references to Hindu religion. I understand from other reviews that the stories span Gracy's entire career, but I didn't get this while reading.

The reading was a humbling experience in discovering a totally different culture that didn't speak to me. But to be more enjoyable, the book would have greatly benefited from a preface and more information.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley. I received a free copy of this book for review consideration.

Was this review helpful?

I tried to like this book, I really did. It did not strike anything within me. I feel like I would enjoy this better in Malayalam but the endings were empty, the stories felt drawn out and I did not like the portrayal of intimacy. Not for me at all.

Was this review helpful?

Really enjoyed this compelling, transgressive collection of stories that is unabashed in its depiction of women’s lives. Tackling oppressive environments, women’s sexuality and sexual violence, it’s quite a confronting collection tempered by a heady combination of this horror with atmospheric settings and rich symbolism. Appreciated reading this, and would read more by this author.

Was this review helpful?

Reading this fascinating collection of short stories by Gracy, translated from Malayalam, I was also reminded of why Harper Collins is one of my favourite publishers. They have a knack for picking interesting writers, including those who might otherwise be inaccessible to people reading primarily in English.

Baby Doll Stories by Gracy is a good example of that. It offers insights into a specific culture (in the southern part of India) whilst also touching on themes that are universal - love, yearning, lust, corruption, manipulation, the complexities of friendship etc. Particular favourites of mine from the collection include The Magician, Devi Mahatyam, and The Secrets of The Earth.

Gracy is a keen observer of human frailty, and of what can result when the vulnerable meet the manipulative. Her insights into the human condition are often delivered with razor sharp wit, but the constant thread that runs through her writing is the depth of understanding she brings to the stories that she tells.

I received this review copy in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.

This collection is recommended for those who are interested in short stories, multicultural writing, and the inexplicable mysteries of the human heart.

(Review published on Goodreads and also submitted to Amazon UK)

Was this review helpful?

This collection of short stories packs a punch stirring a myriad of emotions. Each story regardless of length captures the readers attention and are compact in plot. There is a thread of harsh truths interwoven throughout the stories. The beloved characters pull you in and hold you close. Conversely, there are others who display sheer madness that one would shy away from.

Was this review helpful?

I have very mixed feelings about this collection of short stories. While it was nice to read so many different stories, I didn’t love the dark undertones and themes of the collection. I had hoped that I would get to experience a different culture than my own through these stories, which I did, to an extent. The idea of exploring the female mind was intriguing and I can see how this collection would be perfect for some people, but unfortunately, I didn’t feel as though this was the right collection for me. I would however like to thank NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers India for the opportunity to read and review this collection.

Was this review helpful?

Not my cup of tea. Religious tones aside, this stood out for almost each story rushing to a rushed conclusion, morals be damned.

Was this review helpful?

NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

A complex, dark, sensual exploration of the female mind. There's some mythology and spiritual themes from the Hindi and Christianity worlds. This is a 30 year exploration of the thoughts and feelings of Gracy. You will witness the depth and change in her writing styles over the years. I'm grateful for her bravery in compiling and publishing this work.

Was this review helpful?

I am enraptured with almost each tale in this collection. The stories of female desire, female woe, and the female experience are each so poignant.
My favorite by far however has to be Parting with Parvathi, which told a story of a young lesbian falling in and out of love with the wrong woman. It was very relatable to me because I went through a similar experience as a teenager and then adult, idolizing the wrong person because they were beautiful and gave me attention. Only to realize that the beauty was only skin deep.

Was this review helpful?

Over 30 short stories…. All of the stories have a dark feeling towards them and some I loved more than others.

Was this review helpful?

There are some good stories in this collection but most of them weren’t the kind I enjoy.

Gracyude Kathakal, who writes as “Gracy”, is supposedly "one of the finest practitioners of the short story in modern Malayalam literature." So it is with a bit of shamefacedness that I admit I had never heard of her. Like many Indian regional writers, she seems to have been restricted to readers of the language she writes in. If I am not wrong, this is the first English translation of her works. Needless to say, I had high hopes, but her writing style and my reading preference were unfortunately on parallel tracks for most of this journey.

The 36 stories in this collection range in length from micro-fiction to novelette. The tales come primarily from female protagonists, and are mostly dark. The content is quite provocative, feminist and sexual – none of which are adjectives I would associate with Indian regional fiction and hence came as a pleasant surprise. Many tales have implicit references to Christian or Hindu mythology, but in a very irreverent sort of way.

There is a sarcastic kind of humour in a few of the stories, and a touch of magical realism in a few others. These are the ones I enjoyed the best. A few stories were quite metaphorical, and many end abruptly. These are the ones I didn’t like as much.

The stories were written over a period of three decades and have been arranged chronologically. You can see the development of the writer over the long time period. The stories at the end are much better composed than the initial ones. At the same time, I wish there were a reference to the year in which these stories were written, maybe right next to the title. That would have helped to connect their context with the specific year of their writing.

The translation seemed to capture the writer’s intent well, though of course, I can’t comment on its merit without knowing the original work.

Of the 36 stories, only 6 reached 4 stars or more for me. 10 stories came in the 3-3.5 star range. The rest were scattered across 1-2.5 stars. Thus this was a greatly mixed experience, mainly due to my personal disconnect with the writing style. My favourites were the title story, “Outdoor Sights”, and “Coming Home.”

2.5 stars, based on the average of my ratings for all the stories.

My thanks to HarperCollins Publishers India and NetGalley for the DRC of “Baby Doll: Stories”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

Was this review helpful?

I read this collection of short stories so quickly, I couldn't put them down. They were almost gothic in their exploration of loneliness and the affects that this can have on humans and their mental state. Thwere was so much crammed into this book from loneliness, to relationships with family and spouses, to family dynamics and the break down of families and the feelings that encompass these.
I loved that there were references and allusions to the mythology and folklore of the authors culture as I have never read any Hindi mythology before and this has made me want to look more into that.
All of the stories have a dark feeling towards them and I would be hard pushed to mention a favourite as they were all amazing.
I will definitely be getting a physical copy of this and annotating it as well as recommending it to everyone I know. I need to read more by this author.

Was this review helpful?