4 out of 4 stars
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Reflections by Sain Sucha consists of sixteen short stories, which the author wrote between 1955 and 2001. Somehow, they have to do with human relationships. The themes explored are entertaining and varied. One of the most outstanding stories tells of a doctor named Hakim Sahib, whose masculinity was not in doubt since he had many wives in his harem. However, inside his house, it was known that he could not intimate with them. The last wife he had chosen was Roshan Begum, who was the unique one he knew by her name. Roshan was in charge of buying the other wives for him every second year. Everything was going well until his new and strange wife Naseem arrived. What did Naseem have different from the other wives that even changed the mood of the harem? Another notable story is regarding an invincible and mysterious skier, nicknamed Spooky. What is her secret to winning all the races?
Additionally, the book covers polemical topics such as women affected by the radioactive effects of the atomic bomb in Japan; the odd relationship between an adult son and his manipulative mother; among others. Some stories take place in Pakistan or Sweden. The former is the country where the author was born and the latter is where he has lived the longest. Various stories reflect cultural glints of both aforementioned countries. Some narratives are in the first-person perspective and others in the third person. In those in the first person, the narrator appears to represent the author.
The voice and the writing style are fascinating, I enjoyed the author's ability to narrate and describe. Some stories convey messages that make you reflect. In others, criticisms of customs, systems, or beliefs are exposed. In this sense, the story titled Mirage expresses criticism of cultural aspects considered hypocritical, especially toward women. For instance, it comments about the nudism of Swedish women in hot summers in contrast to women from Muslim cultures in which they are required to be completely covered. What I liked the most about this work is that several of the stories contain a significant plot twist that impresses the reader. Plus, I liked that some endings were left open, allowing the reader to interpret.
Since the stories are short, the characters are generally not described at length. In addition, in several cases, they have difficult names to remember, which makes it a bit tedious to follow some characters. This is the aspect that I disliked about the book.
The editing is adequate although I noticed a few minor details that do not disturb the flow of the reading. I think they can be easily corrected in the next round of proofreading. Considering all that has been said, I consider Reflections deserves a rating of four out of four stars. The aspects I complained about are not enough to discount any star.
The reading entertained me throughout the book and made me ponder some themes. It does not include profanities or eroticism. Although there are some criticisms of beliefs, I think the book is adequate for any religion since the criticisms expressed are left to interpretation. I think this book is more suitable for adults because of the topics addressed. I recommend it to those who like short stories that transmit thoughtful messages on relevant and controversial subjects.
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