Exercises in the uncanny

VirginsManjula Padmanabhan takes the familiar and wrenches it into funny, sharp-angled shapes in this wry, clever collection of stories (Three Virgins and Other Stories), says Mitali Saran in Tehelka

“Alas,” writes Manjula Padmanabhan in her introduction, “the ideas that arrive at my desktop are all rude, unsightly wretches who belch and pick their noses and expose themselves in public.” That’s something of an exaggeration, but Padmanabhan’s writing does have a refreshingly uninhibited quality. This mostly reprinted, some-new collection of short stories flexes her many writing muscles from straight-up realism to spoofy role reversal in speculative fiction to outright fantasy and sci-fi. If there is one common thread, it is the interesting women in all of them.

‘Teaser’ features a young man that women are all too familiar with: the innocuously- named ‘eve-teaser’, more accurately sexual harasser or assaulter. Climbing on to a bus this day, on the prowl for suitable targets in which to inspire reverence for his “incandescence”, he meets his match.

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