This short story collection ducks and dives through time and space with the speed of a tap-happy social media surfer. In the opening story, ‘Reading Tolstoy in Barcelona’, a young merchant sailor gets to grips with the world via some extraordinary midnight shore-leave encounters, setting the scene for a series of tales of immigrants and migrants, of misfits and visitors from every corner of the world.
Opening time in a shop in India, and nemesis arrives in the shape of a genial stray dog. In Britain, sons and daughters of immigrants seek ways of being British, whilst the indigenous Brits find the familiar – from office party to lighthouse beam – is not what it ought to be.
Taking in letters from Africa, from the Solomon Islands and from previous centuries, witnessing potentially murderous mountaintop encounters with goats and even trolls; navigating a European tunnel, an English bell tower and a social divide wider than the Australian outback, the mind of the reader must twist and turn, encompassing many miles and many moods, before coming home with a view from another planet as to what it might mean to be human.
Having chosen the title – Barcelona to Bihar – and the strapline – stories that travel with you – I could not resist sending my own copy on a tour to visit the far-flung authors. Here’s the title page, signed on its arrivals in Barcelona and Bihar, and by me on its return, a full two years later!
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Barcelona to Bihar
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