Of empathy and pathos: Review of Anu Kumar’s The Girl Who Ran Away in a Washing Machine and Other Stories

Very few writers even dare to test a reader’s credulity. Anu Kumar stretches it, almost risking collapse, in her latest collection of short stories: TNS

WashingMachinePacked in 128 pages are ten well-written short stories by Anu Kumar. She’s penned 19 titles, for young adults, children, and adults. I have read three of them, including two of her previous novels, Letters for Paul (Mapinlit) and It Takes a Murder(Hachette), which I reviewed here last year. This is her second collection, the first being In Search of a Raja and Other Stories, which I haven’t read so far, but plan to. Her current book is one of the first books published by an independent publishing house, Kitaab.

If one were to look closely at Kumar’s brain, I suspect, one would find inside not veins but stories creating an intricate mesh exhibiting a tremendous range of style and subject, not to mention her flirtation with genres, notably in Summer in the CityThe Make-Over, and The God That Disappeared. Very few writers even dare to test a reader’s credulity; she stretches it risking collapse; she’s not afraid to be seduced by the devil of curiosity. She is equally at ease in sketching portraits with realist strokes, evoking empathy and pathos. She can as deftly make a battery-dependent Ganesha walk out of a ceremony or have a woman disappear at the top of a Ferris wheel.

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