Coloured and Other Stories - Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
Most of us have been guilty, at one time or another, of failing to consider others. We get caught up in our personal struggles and let our natural impulses take over.
It's for this reason that I enjoy reading books with differing perspectives. And I don't just mean a book here or there from a man's perspective. I like being able to learn about new cultures. While this doesn't entitle me to believe that I've "walked in their shoes," it does give me the briefest of glimpses through their eyes.
Coloured and Other Stories provides such a glimpse. Not only does Mohana describe differing cultures, but also how those cultures view other cultures. Not quite sure what I mean? Her short story Weeds is about a man who has moved to the US and doesn't understand the concept behind mowing the grass.
You might laugh at first, but take a moment to consider your childhood. Many of us grew up watching our parents mow the lawns -- or watching a lawn service handle it for our parents. In any case, we all know what a lawn mower is. What if you didn't? How would you manage a combination of grass and weeds that can grow inches a day? (At least here in the Midwest it seems to grow that fast)
I would really like to see this book considered for a high school Senior reading group. I think the different perspectives would help young girls' eyes to open a bit before heading off into the wide world of college and university where they're going to meet classmates and professors of different home towns, regions, countries, and cultures.
But getting back to my review, Mohana is an extremely talented writer with the ability to place you immediately within her story. Even though they're short, you don't feel confused or detached. Each story is engaging and colorful -- and you feel for the characters.
Some Bio Information
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had two sons, and became a writer. She has since published eight e-books, including a momoir for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me; a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies; a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories; and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.
Her coming of age novel, An Unlikely Goddess, won the SheWrites New Novelist competition in 2011.
Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day-to-day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.
After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohadoha.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha
1. What's the first story you ever wrote?
Actually a story in this collection! “Weeds” in 2002 while a graduate student, working on my Masters degree.
2. What or who inspires you?
All of my stories begin with a question: how does a woman deal with loss, far away from her family? How do we transition to living in new places, different from everything we know? Is adventure really worth it?
3. Describe your perfect writing setting.
A sun filled room with a desk facing windows that look out over water.
4. What would you like your readers to take away from your writing?
I would like to inspire them to find out more about the worlds, cultures, and people I write about.
5. Who do you write for?
I write for women, age 25-50, who are interested in learning more about different parts of the world. She probably has a college degree but many familial or professional responsibilities that keep her from traveling as much as she would like, so she reads. This could also be true of men who fit this profile.
6. What is your favorite writing memory?
Every November I try to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). That 30 days of writing 1666 words a day makes anyone a bit stir crazy.
7. What's your ultimate goal in being an author?
To tell the stories no one else is telling for readers willing to read them.