East West Crossroads
Author: Lopa Mukherjee,
Publisher: Lifi Publications, New Delhi
(Pp 239, ISBN 978-93-82536-73-4, Rs 220)
A short story is a short piece of fiction aiming at unity of characterisation, theme and effect. It aims to produce a single narrative effect with the greatest economy of means and utmost emphasis. Here the focus is much more on the less spectacular aspects of life, on the significance underlying what is apparently trivial. The result of such perceptive writing is to reveal the subtleties of the human mind and of human behaviour.
East West Crossroads by Lopa Mukherjee is a collection of short stories on the collaboration and contrast between the Indian and American cultures. No two cultures are the same. The American and Indian cultures have very vast differentiation between them. While the culture of America is a mixture of different cultures, the Indian culture is unique and has its own values. In another sense, it can be said that the American culture is more goal oriented and the Indian culture is more people or family oriented. Indians may even forsake their individual wishes and also happiness for the sake of families. But in American culture, this trend cannot be seen.
Lopa Mukherjee’s collection stems from the Indians obsessed by the American dream to one disillusioned by materialistic ways. Some of them are imitators of American ways, some cling to Indian traditions.
The stories in this collection are spun around experiences of Asian Indians influenced by the US. Some of the characters are immigrants to the US, some are visitors, some are born in the US, some immigrants go vacationing to India, some return to India for good. All of them have one thing in common – they are participants in the Indo-American cultural exchange. Collection follows a rough trajectory from arrival to departure. Some are set in India, some in the US, and a few somewhere in between.
The stories in the collection have arresting opening, well developed and appropriate structure, effective use of language in word choice and imagery and strong themes.
– G S Jolly