Safety Warning: It’s nothing like anything you would expect it to be.
It’s your nightmare put into nine short stories. Anjali Sachdev gives you a book in All The Names They Used for God, that will make you question the little things you’ve taken for granted, Gods, circumstances and hands for example. The Earth, in one these stories, is ruled by abstractly shaped aliens. You can’t fight back because touch them and you die. They haven’t changed the world much and humans can continue with their day to day life but after a little surgery to replace your hands with claws of metal.
In her horrifyingly beautiful collection of stories, Anjali knits science, psychology, and myth together. It doesn’t end just there – the stories span across continents, eras, and a hundred different logics that the characters put to use. The central idea is that humans can adapt to more than what we assume we are capable of, having our hands cut off for instance. In an interview with Sydnee Monday, the author said “Looking at them (everyday events) through a magical lens, for one thing, adds this element of surprise that I think pulls your attention back and makes you look at the issue in the face, and not give into that impulse to look away.”
While the stories spread across an infinite web of space, time and logic knitted together, they don’t fail to have a sense of continuity about them. This continuity comes from the shared pathos of the characters in these stories. In “Logging Lake” we see a man recuperating from a break by going out on a date, unaware his world is about to change. In another, there are two Nigerian women trying to move on in their adult lives after having faced a kidnapping. They manage to escape by mind controlling the activists of Boko Haram. Each story is horrifyingly dreamy in its own way and each one drags you on to read the next with its twisted ending.
We are giving ‘All The Names They Used for God’ the Buzzers Recommendation Badge. It’s magical, unnerving, and a total page turner.
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