Category Archives: Asian short stories

Kitaab announces 15 new titles to mark 15th anniversary

15 Books to Look Forward to in 2020/2021 from Kitaab

Kitaab celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2020. What started as a literary blog in 2005 has now grown to a credible indie publishing house, connecting Asian writers with global readers. 

To mark this milestone in the journey of Kitaab’s life, we are announcing 15 titles that we are very excited about–they will be launched this year and next year. A few of them have just been released, and some will be released at the virtual Singapore Writers’ Festival this year.

  1. Dreams in Moonless Night by Hussain Ul Haque (Eng. translation by Syed Sarwar Hussain)

This much-appreciated multilayered novel spans the traumatic years of the aftermath of Indian Independence to the current apocalyptical state of affairs. It tells the story of Ismael Merchant who even after losing his whole family in a communal carnage represents the intrinsic Indian passion for love and brotherhood. 

This title will be virtually launched at the Singapore Writers Festival 2020.

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Call for entries: Singapore at Home: Life across Lines

Singapore At Home

The thought of home is imbued with bliss and pain, comfort and guilt. In all its manifestations— whether it makes us or breaks us—home nurtures a tender, heartbreaking beauty. A lived space, it shapes our life experience. But more importantly, the people we share our home with transform the meaning we seek in a place that is hopefully our refuge.  Read more

Short Story: City of Gems by Renald Loh

I find myself awakened by a sudden jerk and the ratchet of a handbrake. I look around the dark to find my colleagues sound asleep, still, snuggled up in their leather seats serving as make-shift beds. From my periphery, I sense Lakmal’s silhouette navigating his way towards me, past the heaps of camera bags dumped along the narrow aisle, the nimbleness of his feet matching his dexterity on the wheel. Both of us gesture for a smoke. He grins – milky teeth illuminating in the darkness like saltwater pearls. 

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Short Story: Tawakkul – A Story of Faith by Eman Khalid

It is not until we lose something, do we realize the true significance of it. It is not until we make mistakes do we realize where we went wrong. Human nature is such, we can’t help but make mistakes. And some people are fortunate enough to discipline those mistakes and better themselves. However, some people are arrogant enough to acknowledge their mistakes. They think of themselves as superior to the rest. And these are the kinds of people who never learn anything in life. Because if we believe that we are right all the time, what do we learn? We are just mere human beings in this journey of life. Along the way, we might get distracted by the beauty of this world. Us human beings, we are uncanny, aren’t we?

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Call for submissions: The Best Asian Short Stories 2020

Kitaab is seeking short story submissions for The Best Asian Short Stories 2020 anthology, the latest in the annual TBASS series of anthologies which aims to celebrate the Asian short story as a constantly evolving, innovative and vibrant mode of literary expression.

The focus of our 2020 issue is climate change and migration but stories on other themes will be considered too. As usual, we are looking for well-crafted stories that ignite the imagination of the reader and have the ability to suck in the reader into the universe of the story.

This time we are only considering submissions written directly in English in our attempt to capture the voice of the contemporary Asian writer. The anthology will be published in the last quarter of 2020.

What’s different this year?

This year we are making all the stories from the current and past volumes of TBASS available on a special website, tbass.org. It will be a subscription-based website and all the selected stories will be hosted on this site. The best three stories (decided by the editor) will get cash prizes or Kitaab vouchers (worth $50 each)! All selected contributors will each receive complimentary one-year subscription to the tbass.org site, where they can access stories from all the available volumes.

This year onwards, we will also select some web-extra stories: these will be stories will that not make it to the TBASS 2020 edition but will be published as Web specials. This gives you more chance of exposure to your stories, even if they don’t get selected for the main printed volume.

The Best Asian Short Stories 2020 anthology will be edited by Zafar Anjum, the founder of Kitaab, Singapore, and the Series Editor for TBASS. Anjum is a writer, publisher and filmmaker who has authored many bestsellers such as ​The Resurgence of Satyam (​Random House India, 2012), ​Startup Capitals: Discovering the Global Hotspots of Innovation ​(Random House India, December 2014), and ​Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician (​Vintage Books/Random House India, 2014). He has published two collections of his short stories, The Singapore Decalogue (Red Wheelbarrow Press, 2012) and Kafka in Ayodhya & Other Stories(Kitaab, 2015).

Submissions between 3000-5000 words should be e-mailed to kitaab.sg@gmail.com.

Eligibility

Asians of all nationalities living anywhere in the world are eligible. By ‘Asian writers’, we mean all writers who belong to the continent of Asia. Non-Asian authors who have resided in and written extensively about an Asian country will also be considered.

Submission fee (until 31 March): S$10 per submission
Submission fee (1 April 2020- 30 May): S$20 per submission 

All submissions must be made together with the submission fee receipt or screenshot paid here at Kitaabstore.

(for fee waiver requests in case of financial difficulties, pls write to us at kitaab.sg@gmail.com)

Format

Submissions must be MSWORD (.doc/.docx) attachments, typed double spaced in legible fonts, preferably Times New Roman 12. The submission should also be pasted within the body of the covering mail. The subject line of the email should read as:

Submission/TBASS2020/author’s name. Please include an author bio note of 100 words. Only one submission will be considered from each writer.

Previously published work in print or online (including blogs, magazines or other online fora) will not be accepted. Translations are not encouraged but simultaneous submissions will be considered. Please intimate us immediately if the story is accepted elsewhere.

Deadline30 May, 2020

Short Stories: The God Link by Neeraj Chawla

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

The sulphur gas hissed and smoke was issuing every few metres from the porous rocks. The clouds churned in the sky with lightning in ugly shades of grey black. The landscape lay broken and crying from the third cataclysm.

But what scared Rangar the most wasn’t the dangers on the land but what lay ahead.

The road, once upon a time it may have been a road, was broken. It was littered with potholes, rocks lining hot mud pools that steamed and an occasional geyser of magma. His blistered feet hurt, even wrapped in multiple layers of clothes. He looked up at the path he was following up to the mountain which was still spewing smoke and gases into the air.

How did the witch Manap survive here, he thought? Read more

Short Story: The Collision of Parallels by Vrinda Baliga

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

Tia’s eyes fluttered open. She looked about herself— blinking at the bright blue sky. Where was she?

A town square of some sort. The landscaped roundabout at the centre had a marble fountain that spouted water energetically in the air, and wrought iron benches arranged just out of spraying range, but there was nobody around. There were shops all around, their awnings fluttering gently. An ice-cream shop, a café, a tattoo studio, a garments shop, a salon and spa, a gym … all empty and shuttered.

Even as she took it all in, she felt a growing sense of familiarity. The other question in her mind—where had she been all this time?—began to fade. She had a vague sense of a long incarceration, but where, by whom, and for what, evinced no ready recall in her consciousness. She looked down at herself. Did she imagine it, or had the pale grey of her incarceration changed before her very eyes to the red top and embroidered denim cut-offs that were familiar and comforting so that she knew immediately that they had always been hers? Had that bracelet on her wrist with those particular charms, the red polish on her nails, the auburn highlights in her hair and the sequined heels on her feet appeared just now, or had they always been there? With every passing moment it was getting harder to know. Or to care. Read more

How The Best Asian Short Stories 2019 Explores the Souk of Asia’s Imagination

Book review by Tan Kaiyi

BASS_cvr19_1024x1024@2x

With the rise of the Asian Century, the global community typically shines its spotlight on the economic progress of the region. Much is made of the advancing wealth of nations like India, China, Singapore and Vietnam. But while the economic progress is an easy unifying narrative that could be woven through the different countries, equally important — but much more challenging — is charting the breadth and depth of the Asian literary imagination.

The Best Asian Short Stories 2019 is up to the monumental task. The editor of the anthology, award-winning author Hisham Bustani, highlights the main obstacle to the endeavour when assembling the collection:

“…there is no such thing as a well-defined, self-contained, concrete, unified Asian identity…”

He explains the issue by contrasting it with Europe. While similar to Asia with a geography that contains multiple language and cultures, the region “claims a unique identity and set of ‘European values’ that separate it from others…” This consequently gives a literary landscape in the region a halo of universalism. Whether it is true at heart or not is certainly up for debate, as Bustani rightly points out that some communities like Turkey are isolated from the Eurocentric ideological bloc. Read more

Short Story: The Hunt by Zubier Abdullah

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

When she walked into the room, every eye in that place rested on her, as though she was a magnet and we were all iron filings.

Sarika was her name—I found that out later, after my eyes had examined every inch of her body and her face from where I was sitting. A mad wave of desire swept over me and I felt as though I was possessed. Have you ever felt like that? I hope not. It was something which had no hint of romance in it. I had to have her. The last vestiges of propriety and polite behaviour that had been long back instilled into me were cast off, like winter clothes at the beach.

The club was noisy, filled with nameless faceless people, gyrating in time to the dull droning of one hip hop song after another. I walked over to her, drink in hand, a salacious smile on my lips. I looked around to make sure that she was alone. Read more

Short Story: Timanna’s House by Ravibala Shenoy

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

The man trudged up the red mud lane carrying a rucksack on his back and a tin trunk in one hand. He mounted the three steps from the lane and stepped over a metal stile flanked by gateposts. An elderly woman sat on the concrete platform in front of the big white house; she seemed to be waiting for him.

“Bayool Maami?” the man asked, joining his palms in formal greeting while introducing himself, “Shyam Kulkarni.”

“I was expecting you two hours ago, Painter Saheb,” Bayool said, rising slowly from the cement platform and hobbling into the sitting room, “Come, come. Sit,” gesturing to the sling back armchair.

Bayool was an elderly woman who wore dentures. Shyam noticed that when she smiled there were gaps in her dentures that made her teeth look natural.

“The bus broke down,” he said simply. “Bayool Maami, please call me Shyam.”

He sat in the armchair and looked around. Through the floor-to-ceiling bars that made up one wall of the sitting room, he observed a cottage nearby.

“You will live there,” Bayool said, pointing to the cottage.

The property adjoining Bayool’s seemed impenetrable with trees, briars and tangled creepers, but Shyam saw outlines of a roof and walls and broken down windows of a house through those trees. Read more

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