I had the pleasure of reading, “Potluck” recently. This is a collection of 26 short stories published by Become Shakespeare with the contributors being members of the Critique Group. This group came together when they attended Creative Writing courses at the Xavier Institute of Communication in Mumbai. These course were conducted by Renu Balakrishnan who too has contributed a couple of stories to this collection.
The composition of the 13 writers is interesting. Amongst them are working mothers, single women, a Catholic priest and a Hindu monk. They have been brought together by a common passion: for writing. With 13 contributors to be considered, the publishers have taken the safe path of presenting the stories in the alphabetical order of the writers’ names. Hence we start with “Balloons” by Aby Sam Thomas and end with “Peanuts” by Sarbani Sengupta. I would have gone in for a more random mixing to add to the novelty of each writer. Personally, I would not have started with “Balloons” but with “Shoes” by the same author, if at all they had to follow the alphabetical order method. You will perhaps agree with me when you read the book.
“Amma’s Will” by Beatrice Rao left an impact in my mind while some of the others that impressed me were, ” Voices” by Himali Kothari, “The Seamstress’s Story” by Maria Sres, “A Day In The Life OF Father Henry” by Myron J. Pereira, “Awaas” by Renu Balakrishnan, “The Reunion” by Richa Chatterjee and “Meeting Anu” by Sarbani Sengupta.
Some more attention, I believe, could have been paid to the editing. Three small examples: In one story we have the “chugging” of the local train in Mumbai, a word more associated with the old coal-fired locomotive rather than electric traction. In another story, ” five days to go….4 days” etc which betray a lack of consistency; and in the back cover copy, ” Xavier’s Instititute..?”
It is a splendid effort to bring out the creative juices which lie within each and every one of us. Often it needs some facilitator to bring it our from us. It appears Renu Balakrishnan has played this role effectively. And guess what? The contributors support each other with their feedback, thrive on each other’s writing and have a Facebook Page too!
Overall, I enjoyed this delightful little book and would recommend it to you.