Nine on Nine - Book Review

Perhaps the best way to get back onto the reading wagon is by picking up a book of short stories. It is not as taxing as a novel which requires investment of energy in the lives of the characters over a long period of our time as we watch their lives through the author's lens. Short stories are easier, to read and digest. Nine on Nine, a collection of short stories by Nandita C. Puri is a quick and easy read. As the title suggests, nine stories set in various locations in India shed light on the lives of ordinary people.

The best one is the first titled "An Arranged Marriage" with an unexpected twist, featuring love marriages in two generations of a Maharashtrian family and the consequences of these decisions. The next one where the comings and goings of a group of affluent women at Jenny's beauty parlour reveals secrets that are obvious to the reader but not the main characters. Similarly, the plot twist of "Flashback" is revealed prematurely in an unfortunate sentence that perhaps an astute editor could have suggested to be removed. The most poignant story is "The Piano Teacher" which depicts the humane aspects of kind old people that the young consider a burden. "Bhabhiji" reads like any other TV soap opera and one wishes that the main character had more nuances instead of being a victim.

The book is a good attempt and the stories highlight the layers of history behind the monochrome lives of regular people. But as a reader I hoped for more depth and insights. I would rate the book a seven on ten.