Difficult Pleasures (Penguin Viking 2012) is a collection of stories about solitary, brooding types who spend a lot of time inside their own heads. At the same time, these folks are fascinated by what are the, I hope, recognizable urban, contemporary landscapes they live in. The city is a big presence. As are love, childhood disappointments, dreams of travel, relationships with parents, literature, artistic and material aspirations and … water shortages.
FROM THE REVIEWS
“This collection shows a range of subjects, settings and characters, always with an eye on the inner truth and the stumbling ironies of modern life… Writing fiction with craft is an endangered skill today. Hasan cares about getting it just right. There aren’t enough like her around.”
Read full review in New Indian Express
“13 perfectly crafted short stories that subtly explore the urban Indian mind…Anjum Hasan shows sheer mastery and certain brilliance in the way she weaves a plausible story around the ordinary.”
Read full review in Deccan Herald
“Difficult Pleasures is a reminder of what classic short stories are like, and that the most eloquent authors let their characters do the talking.”
Read full review in Timeout (Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru editions).
“The 13 stories in Difficult Pleasures are a good indicator why Anjum Hasan is widely regarded as a rising star on the literary horizon, as fluid in prose as poetry.”
Read the full review in the Hindu Literary Review
“While many are brutally honest in admitting the fact that short story is a genre struggling hard under the shadow of its mightier cousin, the novel, the arrival of a collection of short stories like Difficult Pleasures …busts all such myths.”
Read full review in The Telegraph
“Delicious collection of short stories… Hasan has done a masterly job placing these stories before us like delicate, translucent slivers of life”
Read full review in India Today
“Each of the 13 stories is a gem…Beautifully told and effortlessly written.”
“The lyrical style and intricate detailing of her characters’ inner selves that was evident in her novels, works even better in this collection of short stories.”
Read full review in DNA
“The short stories are masterfully crafted, and examine people and their relationships through a lens that is at once thoughtful, critical and ironic.”
“These are humane, unshowy tales that depend more on character than on plot for their effects, and the best of them… are moving and eloquent.”
“Anjum Hasan has to be appreciated for her simple writing and the soul-stirring conversations… The stories are unpredictable and you will get hooked.”
Read full review in Express Buzz
“Think of the book [Difficult Pleasures] as a collection of prose photographs, each deftly capturing some version of the urban Indian. You can look at them from a distance while still falling into their lives.”
Read full review in Tehelka
# Read an excerpt from my short story “History of Touch” in The Hindustan Times.
# Read my short story “Wild Things” from Difficult Pleasures in Pratilipi.
What brought about Difficult Pleasures?
My discovery of the pleasures of the short story — its delicacy and brevity. And my attempt to use this form to explore the many different kinds of urban lives that I’m curious about. Most of my stories are driven by individual, even solitary characters — they are not about big families or community lives. The short story became for me the perfect vehicle to describe specific urban experiences — love and loneliness, ambivalent feelings between parents and children or among siblings, minor dents in marital relationships that can suddenly deepen, where and how artists find inspiration, what a life of travel might do to a person, and so on.”
Read full interview in the Hindu Literary Review, May 6, 2012