“A confession prior to these confessions – these confessions aren’t all that juicy”
‘Confessions of an MBA and Other Stories’ is a collection of eight short stories written by Vinod Kaul. This is his first book. The title of this book not only refers to the first story in this collection but also to a motif dominating all of the stories – some sort of realization. However, the variation in themes makes each story different. While I did enjoy one of these short stories very much, by and large this book was a pretty generic experience for me. There are vivid descriptions but there is nothing that strikes you. Writing style is good, characters feel real and there are some intriguing ideas but neither do the stories achieve any emotional resonance nor is there any strong overarching message. May be the messages were so subtle that I couldn’t perceive them. One finds lack of mysterious twists in these stories. Additionally, most of the stories do not leave you in a state of shock or surprise. You are not left with a feeling of ‘Oh, my God’. Though there are moments which force you to glue to some of these stories, such moments are short-lived. However, I will also acknowledge the fact that this book is a sincere debut effort by a talented writer. Hence I would not mind rating this book as ‘three stars’.
The only story which really touches your heart and leaves a long lasting impression is ‘The Final Goodbye’. This story narrates the plight of Kashmiri Pundits. This story, in a way, is a searing exploration of identity, belonging, and the many meanings of what we call ‘home’ in our global world. The story gripped me with its myriad shades of loss, longing, and redemption. This story is both lyrical and powerfully written with razor-sharp intelligence. I really liked the bluntness of the end. It will certainly linger with me long. This story even provides a potential for expanding it to either as a novella or an actual full length novel. If I have to recommend this book, I will recommend it for the sake of this story only. I also felt some semblance of a connection with the story of ‘The Doorway’. This story narrates the obsession of Indians to study and work aboard. If you are bound by family yet compelled by your dreams and desires, you will find this story worth reading. Kaul’s vivid descriptions of lives of immigrants in the western world are very realistic. The story titled ‘Running Through Heaven and Hell’ may also appeal to some readers. Other stories are completely forgettable.
The cover of the book is really disappointing. It does not give the desired feel to the book. Additionally, it does not connect to the stories this book contains. I do hope that the author will come out with a better cover next time. I also found a number of grammatical errors, which could have been avoided by careful editing.
Overall, I think this was a great introduction to Vinod Kaul’s writing and I am really looking forward to read more of his works in future.