Book Review: Boats on Land

It was mostly at funerals that people told stories.

Author:Janice Pariat
Publisher:Random House India
Date of Publication:2012
Number of Pages:Approx 290 with cover

Book Review: Boats on Land

A girl dreams of being a firebird. An artist watches souls turn into trees. A man shape-shifts into a tiger. Written with political struggles and social unrest mingling with fireside tales and age old superstitions as the background, Boats on Land is a unique way of looking at India’s northeast and its people against a larger historical canvas – the early days of the British Raj, the World Wars, conversions to Christianity, and the missionaries.

Boats on Land is a collection of fifteen short stories. With remarkable purity Janice Pariat introduces the reader to charms, tradition, myths, folklores and magic realism which mark the landscape. At some point of time she succeeds in merging boundaries and the stories evolve around characters with their individual tales to tell. The stories that can start with statements like – Today, nobody had come to the doctor possessed by a ghost (At Kut Madan) or Every other day, the world ended (Laitlum) or I can measure our days together by the number of times we went to the river (Boats on Land) are sure to hook the readers from the very beginning and force to follow the smooth, beautiful journey ahead. Although there are clear elements of magic realism and other genres in individual stories , the collection can never be tagged with any particular classification. Kudos to the author.

Beautiful short stories linger longer. Boats on Land is one such collection that can boast of stories that keep lingering. Jeet Thayil has commented on this collection: ‘Revelatory and original.’ I cannot agree more. I had received the review copy from Random House India. Thank you Rukun for giving me this opportunity. You can buy this wonderful debut at amazon or at flipkart in case you live in India. You can also find the lowest price of this book in India at

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