Wow. What to say about this stunning and innovative collection of short stories…
Perhaps my biggest impression of these stories is how much heft they have. Every single one of Bucak’s stories is fleshed out and complex, with a real depth to both its narrative and its characters. And because of this, they work on almost every single level. Firstly, I cannot overstate the rich diversity of these stories, both in terms of theme and plot. There is “Little Sister and Emineh,” a tale of two girls who find each other in the midst of the Chicago World Fair in 1893; “A Cautionary Tale,” a tale-within-a-tale that manages to deftly examine xenophobia and the often Orientalist lens with which many stories are read by the West; “The Trojan War Museum,” a masterful exploration of the toll of war and violence and what they mean when they become enshrined in a place like a museum.
Secondly, and what was much more impressive to me, is that these stories were so emotionally powerful. I remember I was enjoying “Little Sister and Emineh” as I was reading it and then I got to the ending and it absolutely floored me; I almost cried. By the time I got to the last story in the collection, “A Gathering of Desire,” I just fully cried at the end. I’ve read full novels that haven’t so much as made me feel sympathy for their characters and here is Bucak making me cry in the span of a single short story. She’s just that good.
In her acknowledgements at the end of this book, Bucak writes that this collection has been in the works for over 10 years, and let me tell you, IT SHOWS. This is a confident, rich, and beautiful short story collection that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a good story, period.
(Also can I just say that I’m in love with this cover????)