I Am An Executioner (4 stars)

Nine wildly inventive tales on love, life and death brought to us by Indian-born US writer Rajesh Parameswaran

I Am An Executioner

I Am an Executioner is the debut collection of short stories by Indian-born US writer Rajesh Parameswaran. The tagline is 'Love Stories', an indication of the inextricability of love, life and death which Parameswaran explores in these nine wildly inventive tales.

Opener 'The Infamous Bengal Ming' is a bittersweet romance, narrated by the eponymous tiger, whose love for his keeper is very real, and very dangerous. What is the pinnacle of love? We are simultaneously shocked and thrilled, propelled by Parameswaran’s choice of first-person narration. He deftly inhabits the voices of a range of characters, from the tiger to aliens and humans from all walks of life. The title story explores, in less than perfect English, what it means to be the bringer of death. Parameswaran is an experimenter, like so many of his peers. His wit is reminiscent of Dave Eggers, the mix-ups in the executioner’s English read like a Jonathan Safran Foer character and 'Elephants in Captivity (Part One)' utilises lengthy footnotes which will forever scream David Foster Wallace. The results are mixed, sometimes contrived, but this collection is largely successful, entertaining and thought-provoking.

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