Monday, January 10, 2011

Anis Shivani

"Next door in a bookstore, the power of the blast made the thin, dusty volumes of French novelists translated into Persian totter and fall off the shelves, although the thicker British and Russians stayed put."  from "Tehran" by Anis Shivani

Every rare once in awhile I discover a new writer that I would sing about if I could sing, so write I will.  I first discovered the brash young Anis in his reviews at the Huffington Post, where he takes on the Canon and introduces many writers I never heard of, which for me are the best kind.  Soon after my introduction I obtained a copy of his collection of short stories, Anatolia and Other Stories, and began reading alongside a number of other books.  Anatolia soon won out.  The stories all grapple with multiculturalism, or shifting culturalism, as well as issues of race and class, yet they are in no way the politically correct liberal takes that fill the best literary journals, no sire, Anis likes to raise hackles, similar to his character Simone Carpentier in "Go Sell It on the Mountain," a vicious little take on a Breadloaf-styl writing workshop. The stories are set in the U.S., Dubai, India, Iran, Turkey and other locales.  Everywhere the winds of change are shifting the landscapes, and characters are caught up in these changes.  And these are Stories!  No po-mo shape-shifting for Anis.  Each story is filled with scrupulous detail, indigenous language, and fascinating characters.  They are touching, funny, angry, unjust, irritating and gentle to name a few.
The initial story, a very Kafkaesque peice, Dubai, tells of a construction worker who came to Dubai from India many years ago, and on the eve of his returning to India is visiting friends and reminiscing.  A disturbing incident from the past however interferes.  And the other stories, are well worth the visit to a library or book store.  And Anis Shivani is someone very much worth singing, or writing about.

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