The Stained Glass Window - An Anthology of Short Fiction

Heart–Rending and Hilarious

By Nikhat Sattar | March 2021


Among all the genres of fiction, short stories are probably the most difficult to write. The author must turn an event, an episode or even just an emotion, into a larger-than-life depiction of characters, their roles and the lives they lead, with a choice of words that tell more than what is obvious. While a novel has all the luxury of development of characters with twists and turns, the short story must necessarily provide only a glimpse of lives of its protagonists, leaving the reader’s imagination free to wander and paint the latter’s own colours within and around the contours of the story.

This anthology titled ‘The Stained Glass Window’ which presents 26 stories by 25 Pakistani authors, has one common element - they are all written with the COVID pandemic as the core theme. Other than that, they are as diverse and varied, as absorbing and different as the experiences of life itself. Not for a moment does the reader sense repetition or monotony in either the moods or the styles. The writers, too, range from the more well-versed and known names to a younger generation who are publishing for the first time, although their mode of writing speaks of their maturity of thought and expression.

The collection of stories brings home the stark reality of the pandemic during its early days. The stories are both humorous and sad and depict the loneliness of people confined to their homes and restricted from meeting family and friends as well as new habits they inculcate to fill their days. They portray the chaos of immediate family lives and indirect and direct contradictions of the impacts of COVID on the poor and the rich. The stories are both beguiling and simple. Given the society they represent, they discuss the imbalance of gender roles and explore incidents of domestic violence when men became unemployed and women must bear the double burden of managing both the home and financial responsibilities. Many end with an unexpected twist, leaving the readers thoughtful with a myriad of conflicting emotions as they delve into their own lives for shared experiences.

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