Book Size: 8" x 5.25"
Imprint: Interlink Books
Release date: Summer 2023Category: Literature
Namaste Trump and Other Stories
By Tabish Khair$ 17
About this book
A collection of other stories from shining India—those not often told.
The short story “Namaste Trump” starts in a deceptive domestic setting, where a servant from the hinterlands is patronized and exploited by an upwardly mobile urban family. But as the nation celebrates Trump’s visit and copes with the pandemic, it ends up becoming a prophecy of endless haunting. This sets the agenda for a series of stories that delve into fracturing or broken lives in small-town India over the past fifty years.
In the novella-length “Night of Happiness,” pragmatic entrepreneur Anil Mehrotra has set up his thriving business empire with the help of his lieutenant, Ahmed, an older man who is different in more ways than one. Quiet and undemanding, Ahmed talks in aphorisms; bothers no one; and always gets the job done. But when one stormy night, Mehrotra discovers an aspect to Ahmed that defies all reason, he is forced to find out more about his trusted aide. What will he discover: madness or something worse?
In a series of three linked stories, “The Corridor,” “The Ubiquity of Riots” and “Elopement,” Khair traces, through the eyes of an adolescent, the tensions of living as a liberal Muslim in India in the 1970s and 1980s, tensions that isolate families, break friendships, and point to the violence to come. The narrator of these stories, now a busy professional, returns in the third person in another story, “Olden Friends are Golden,” about belonging and exclusion on WhatsApp. Then there is “Scam,” a flippantly narrated story about a crime that
can only be comprehended as a scam perpetuated by the victim, and in “Shadow of a Story” violence returns to a village family in an unimaginable shape.
“The Thing with Feathers” is perhaps about hope, but it is hope beyond despair, hope perhaps gone mad: or, is all hope mad now? Finally, “The Last Installment” narrates two farmers, a father and a son, in a village of North India, caught in a corporate vice: the breathless sentences of the story making the reader sense the desperation of the central character as he finally fights to breathe, to live.
By turns poetic, chilling, and heartbreaking, ranging from understated realism to gothic terror, this is a book of stories about precarious lives in a world without tolerance.
“Skillful and intriguing … A book that reminded me much more of Paul Auster than of any of Khair’s Indian contemporaries … [Namaste Trump], while undeniably a ‘literary thriller’ with a gripping and well-constructed plot, is also a penetrating inquiry into, among other things, the nature of loss and trauma—in this case following the Gujarat pogrom of 2002—and of the varieties of Muslim faith in India.” —The Hindu
“A serving of distilled wisdom from Tabish Khair … [Namaste Trump] is gripping and almost impossible to put down … Khair, like in all his books, ensures that long after the book ends, its poetry—because it certainly is that—continues to gently waft through your mind.” —The Week
“In Albert Camus’ immortal words, ‘the purpose of the writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.’ Tabish Khair shoulders this responsibility with impressive fortitude. Nuanced and insightful, his fiction shines a light on the inner workings of a world mired in Islamophobia and intolerance. It raises difficult, and necessary, questions about the powerful influence religion exerts on the Indian social fabric.” —Open Magazine
Praise for Tabish Khair
“Ingenious and mischievous …”
– The New Yorker
“Khair writes brilliantly … Unmissable …”
– The Times
“Irreverent, intelligent, and explosive.”
– The Independent
“For a book so concise and witty, it is also surprisingly textured …”
– The New Republic
“The picture that emerges may sear your soul much like your all-time favorite film.”
– India Today
“Intelligent and argumentative …”
– London Review of Books
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