Where The Dance Is
This collection of short stories from the author of the award-winning novel When Memory Dies is wonderfully varied. Each story is a modern mystery tale, in which the reader becomes the detective tracking down these characters – from the lovelorn goat-herd in a Sri Lankan village to the aspiring Hampstead actress – who both move and delight, revealing as much about us as about themselves. Each one is searching, sometimes hilariously, sometimes tragically, for a truth that can only be realized in personal relationships.
'All the stories here raise the question of what sensuousness, "becoming that other body", can or cannot offer to the human predicament. The best of this book makes me think of Chekhov, and for an interesting reason. Sivanandan, like Chekhov, is closely engaged in his daily life with people, an engagement which has nothing directly to do with literature. Chekhov, while writing his great stories, practised as a doctor; Sivanandan, as director of the London Institute of Race Relations, listens to and defends people in difficulties at their work or on the streets. In both cases, the other activity gives a special focus to their writing. There are no heroes or villains, no judgment, no certainty; above all, no cleverness. Instead, there is what I can only call an open-air lucidity. Their stories are like passers-by on their way somewhere else. And in this lies their intense, elusive poignancy.' Guardian