I loved most of the stories in this collection. In The Wife of R., a woman (the wife of R.) never leaves the doorway of her home, from where she gathers all manner of information about her neighbors, even going so far as to bribe the local children with candy to get the best first-hand gossip. What does she do with all the stories she learns? What could have been a story about the nosiness of people in dense, poor neighborhoods becomes, by the end, a tale of devoted, quasi-ecstatic love.
All of the stories here are very short–thirteen in total occupying just 111 pages. Kilito’s economy is a function of flensing away conventional narrative and letting the logic of memory lead the dance. During the seven pages of A Glass of Milk, we go from Abdullah as a child to the interior, comic-book-inspired life of the son of his school’s principal, to the adult Abdulla and his elderly, not-long-for-this-world mother, with only a glass of milk as the pivot point. It’s a neat trick, emotionally effective, and it lends a sense of fantasy to these stories.