The People Tree By Beetashok Chatterjee – A Book Review

I have a thing for anthologies – short story collections, especially well-written ones. And my latest read fits the bill perfectly. The People Tree, by Beetashok Chatterjee is a very interesting collection of short stories with a wide range of themes. The pun on the title is spot on. The attractive cover adds to the reading pleasure. A catchy title and an interesting cover are  huge plus point for the book published by Readomania.

The sea captain uses the wealth of experience from his widely travelled life in stories of people and their emotions from different parts of the world and different timelines. The book contains a set of fourteen stories that travel from the United States to London to different parts of India. While his first book Driftwood was more of sea stories, true to its name this book is about human beings and their lives. So the readers get a glimpse of the Khalistani insurgency to the murky Mumbai underworld. From an alleged ‘love jihad’ to a mature gay love story this book displays a wide range of emotions. The engaging stories have something special to offer to every reader. The best part is that almost all the stories have some twists and turns, which will engross any avid reader. The language is warm, crisp and engrossing with a classy vocabulary.

The book starts with a bang with the story ‘The Little Oxford Dictionary’ and creates the appropriate mood for the reading journey. Now as in all short story collections, some stories touch one more than the others. Let me mention some of the stories from the book.

In the first story ‘Little Oxford Dictionary’ someone says Terrorists can come from anywhere. But so do friends. They have a weird plan to walk back in your life at the most unexpected opportune.

‘Course correction’ is a smart tale about a cold-blooded assassin. Mumbai, underworld and murders. Thrilling indeed.

‘Ground Zero’, a riveting story of an act of heroism during the terrorist attack on the twin towers is my favourite from this collection.

‘Do you want to know a secret, this love story with no happy ending wins heart due to its realistic portrayal of the situation. And it did leave me wondering what he wanted to tell her?

Another really interesting story was ‘The Good Neighbour.’ Tale of a lost camera, some secrets with a befitting end.

Waking up from a dream trope in stories is one cliché I really find annoying. So the story, Up in the air did not impress me. Another story The City with a very noble context also felt a little rushed in execution.

But as I mentioned, in a collection, not every story moves the reader in the same way. For example, Two close for comfort was a silent revolution in form of a story. And, ‘Come Home’ seemed like a story of my life. Though I could not be as bold as Aruna.

‘Leaves that are green’ is another story worthy of mention because of its rich narration and endearing language.

Last but not the least, ‘The Vintage Car Rally’ with its 80s Calcutta in the backdrop and the Statesman sponsored Vintage Car Rally in central was truly remarkable.

Overall, The People Tree is a lovely and brilliant collection and highly recommended to all readers.


I’m participating in the #TBRChallenge by Blogchatter

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