Review: Tongues and Bellies – Unique anthology explores diverse south Asian experiences
The Whole Kahani (The Complete Story), is a collective of British fiction writers of south Asian origin, formed in 2011, to provide a creative perspective that straddles cultures and boundaries.
Eight of the authors in the literary group teamed up for this unique anthology of 14 short stories. The third collection of short stories from the talented group of writers explores an interesting array of subjects that navigate their inner and outer worlds. Each author offers up a unique voice, as they look at the culturally rich and diverse experiences of the south Asian diaspora through relatable characters in stories that shine a light on difficult themes.
These interesting subjects include what it means to be British Asian in times of uncertainty, division, identity, loss, grief, and meeting those challenging cultural expectations.
Stories like Lost for Words, Stranger in the Mirror, The Last Supper, and Matar Paneer for the Living are sensitively written and give an interesting perspective into the human condition. Particularly enjoyable ones were Fast with a Purpose, Lucky Girl, The Unusual Properties of Cork, My Baby’s Eyes, and Cufflinks.
Interestingly, food plays a central role at the heart of each story, including characters reminiscing about comforting childhood dishes, their mother’s cooking, or meals with lovers, with the authors managing to skilfully draw parallels on how life too can be bitter-sweet and certainly unpredictable.
The absorbing collection of stories, some of which are poetically written, will move and fill you with joy. You will also likely reflect on your own diaspora experiences and want to know more about the lives of the relatable characters. The short story collection is a lovely addition to any bookshelf. It is one that can be picked up when you are looking for solace and something a little bit deep and meaningful.