A centipede in a shoe, revelations in a shoebox, nosebleeds, exploding women, and a dead mouse named Miraculous populate this collection of thirty-five short stories from one of India's most original young writers.
Kuzhali writes like no one else alive. Stories that are smart, funny, tricky, and always uniquely Kuzhali. – Lavie Tidhar
"Possibly the most intriguing book on the list of thrilling publications from the house of Blaft… Manickavel (who titled a section of a recent blog post on Indian writing in English "Do not have an unnecessarily complicated name like Kuzhali Manickavel") writes in English and lives in Chidambaram. The stories inInsectsare sometimes as short as half a page and occasionally as long as twelve pages. Many of them do feature insects, or at least insect imagery, and diagrams of insects with witty labels are found throughout the book, such as the one… of an earwig representing childhood mythology. It is difficult to think of a way to encapsulate this collection of so many unusual and imaginative stories: other reviewers refer to them as dream-like. I think it better to call them surreal; also: intricate, ironic and frequently hilarious"– Daisy Rockwell, Bookslut
"Not merely lyrical and strange, but also deadpan funny."– Miranda July
"Just very, very beautiful. The stories it collects are by turns weird, whimsical, surreal, visceral, haunting, quirky and fantastic. Manickavel's writing is poetic, her stories often little more than captured moments that hint at larger happenings beyond their borders, vignettes rich in the details of character and emotion"– Damien Walter, The Guardian
From "You Have Us All Late and Follow"
At six in the morning, the bus to Neelankarai is brimming with sweaty elbows and old Tamil movie songs. The sun begins to rise over a broken bridge and I curl my fingers away from the window. You can catch anything from a bus window: lice, viral fever, depression, pregnancy. Veena is sitting beside me, leafing through her collection of Unphrases.
"Drissling Days, Do Not Worry, Walk and Dance, Jump into Jackets," she says. "I got that from a bar in Bangalore. It's perfect, don't you think?"
"Perfect for what?"
"For today. Today is such a drissling day."
Neelankarai begins to appear in sporadic patches of bleached buildings and shabby beaches. Everything smells like fish and moist diseases.
"I think Neelankarai means blue sand," I say. "Or blue shores."
Veena rolls her eyes and snaps her notebook shut.
"That is so fuck-all," she says. "Sand is not blue."
"Maybe the water is."
"Water is not blue, it's see-through. Oh my god, that rhymes."
"You should write that down."
When the bus finally stops, beggar children mill around the door, hands outstretched to show the fragile creases of sand that line their palms. It is a common misconception that beggar children want your money. What they really want are your kidneys.
"Akka," says a wiry girl with green eyes. "If you could spare some change..."
"For what?" asks Veena.
"For something to eat."
"And what am I supposed to eat?"
The girl spits and moves on to another bus.
"That was definitely a kidney thief," I say.
"Good thing I don't have any kidneys," says Veena.