Book Review: 17 by Anita Agnihotri

There are so many stories happening around us. Someone rightly said that we are all extras in someone else’s story, and that is true since we don’t pay attention to the lives of other people around us who may pass us by as insignificant.

17 written by Anita Agnihotri (and translated by Arunava Sinha) compiles a total of seventeen short stories written about the lives of ‘little people’ inherent in our country of India. Ranging from grime misfortune of the employees of a large company working in a heat-struck branch office to the destitute condition of a single bread-winner not receiving his monthly salary due to managerial oversight, the seventeen stories pick out the difficult lives of daily employees working at a 9 to 5 pace who are neglected by superiors. They also tell the tales of small tribal and village dwellers that have been uprooted due to government projects, cross country travelling siblings who visit a rural lake to full the death wish of their mother, an aged woman living in the United States of America who is fascinated by a one-time astronaut and other such stories.

While the highlighting of the happenings of average lives is commendable, considering the neglect they witness and the fictional stories that loop around them, most of the short stories lack for a decent plot and none effectively grab attention owing to the simplistic use of language.

Granted that a few of the stories may raise eyebrows and a hair or two, on the whole, it is a disappointing read which fails to strike a chord with the average reader who is adrift from the small problems that doesn’t concern him/her.

- Sean Sequeira

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