Book Review: Soulmates by Kanchana Ugbabe

Title: Soulmates
Author: Kanchana Ugbabe
Publisher: Penguin India
Genre: Short Stories
ISBN: 9780143067917
Pages: 176
Price: Rs. 199
Source: Publisher/ IBN Live
Rating: 5/5

I am a great fan of short stories. I love reading them for pleasure and also sometimes wanting to know more and read between the lines. Every writer I feel needs to explore the form of the short story in order to become a better writer. That is just my personal opinion though. For me short story writing has come of age and has come a long way – from W. Somerset Maugham to O. Henry to A.S. Byatt, almost every writer has tried this genre and honestly, only some have managed to succeed.

Short Story writing is a skill, almost perfected to an art form. Short story writers can embark to write novels, however novelists cannot always tread the dared-to-handle short-story path. It isn’t easy and sometimes it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea either. So that is my take on the short story form, and amidst this long-held belief I had the opportunity to read a first collection of short stories from Kanchana Ugbabe titled, “Soul Mates”. I firmly believe that a book finds the reader and that has been true in my case for most of the times, and I am glad that “Soul Mates” found me.

“Soul Mates” is a collection of thirteen stories – focussing either on the Indian or the Nigerian culture, they take the reader into a different realm altogether. The stories touch on different nuances and how people behave given the situations – their loves, losses, disappointments and sometimes just ambiguity that takes control of lives.
Each story is different from the other. For instance, the title story is about a couple and their marriage withstanding despite the intrusions of a stranger to “Testimonies” which is about a young girl growing up and her experiences with her mother and her group of friends.

For me, stories can tell you a lot more than a novel sometimes. Kanchana Ugbabe does just that. She tells you a story in 3 pages and you don’t want it to end, and sadly they do. For me, Soul Mates was an excellent read. It not only opened my mind to different cultural aspects, but also made me see things differently. A must read for all short-story form lovers.

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