Retreat and Other Short Stories,
Author: Ashok Patwari
Short Story Collection, 153 pages
Published 2019 by Austin Maucauley Publishers, LLC., New York
Reviewed by: Kerri Lukasavitz, www.kerrilukasavitz.com
If you are looking for a short story collection that takes you on adventures to foreign lands across the globe, than Ashok Patwari’s Retreat and Other Short Stories is one to pick up and savor. Each of the 14 stories takes place in nations rich with colorful histories, beautiful lands, and diverse people. Nations such as the foothills of the Himalayas, Jamaica, Mardhan--a remote village in Pakistan-Afghanistan, and Papua New Guinea to name a few. The author’s influence from extensive world travels is intricately woven throughout the stories, creating an authentic sense of place in each tale.
Ashok Patwari’s writing is descriptive and puts the reader directly into the setting of each of his stories:
“. . . Life in the god-forsaken village in India was strikingly different in comparison to New York. No electricity, no piped water for drinking, no gadgets, no appliances, no telephones, no newspapers, and nothing of the sort was available but his own self and deep within his bare soul . . .”
“. . . The men of the Kalam tribe wore a magnificent traditional dress and paraded around the station with their huge headdresses decorated with bright green beetle exoskeletons. Ricky felt as if he was watching a fancy dress show. But it was real and he was enjoying it . . .”
The stories’ cast of characters is as unique as the unusual settings, with each person differing in temperament, internal motivation, and spirit. Ashok Patwari takes the characters from their initial problems within the stories to sharing their spiritual growth and insights at the end. No story is interesting if the characters don’t show some kind of realization/growth by the final sentences, but Patwari’s writing accomplishes this beautifully.
But what is truly amazing about this collection of short stories is how well Ashok Patwari grabs the reader right from the first sentences of each story and takes them along on the journeys of his characters as they experience conflicts and process the events of their lives. Even though the stories are separated by time marks and backstories, Patawari keeps the reader engaged and wanting more--more to see how it each character will fare in the end. The last paragraphs almost always come with a twist or surprise, so if the reader thinks the story is going to end a certain way, they will be pleasantly surprised by the character’s change in fate. An entertaining collection of stories for most young adult to adult readers.
Reviewer Kerri Lukasavitz has a BFA from MIAD and an MA in English from Mount Mary College. She is the 2019 Hal Prize winner for Nonfiction; a 2020 recipient for a Write On, Door County residency; her debut middle-grade novel, Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable, was a 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award winner; and was published in Peninsula Pulse and Arches.
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