It is hard to believe it's only our second issue – having read many excellent stories and thought so hard about them, we feel as if we are veterans. This has been a fascinating issue to compile. When our editor Samhita produced the wonderful art you see on the cover, we realised that a common thread runs through the stories, that of removal, of the distance between appearance and reality. In some stories, the characters wear a mask, in some they are forced to mask their feelings and in others, the peeling away of layers results in clarity. One might argue that this play of perceptions, of viewing the world through 'eyes wide shut' is essential to story; Oscar Wilde, in his essay, The Critic As Artist said that 'Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.' If we were to ascribe a theme to our second release of Out of Print, it would have to be based around masks, illusions and regard.
We are privileged, as before, to have an incredible set of stories. In Anjum Hasan’s piece we see the world centred and balanced through the sensibilities of Mrs. Ali. K R Usha, winner of the Vodafone Crossword Award, paints a portrait of a woman within a warm, traditional family fold where the narrator’s picture doesn’t quite match the image projected by the family. Rebecca Lloyd, winner of the prestigious Bristol Short Story Prize, contributes a sensitive and ironic story about transitions, cultural schisms and deeply steeped violence in East London. Janice Pariat’s story takes us through the multiple realities of her characters, which are coloured by the atmosphere of aggression in the region. A man must reconcile grief, guilt and practicality in a story of a funeral by Karthik Subramanian. In Susmita Srivastava’s piece, a man’s reality is defined by his memory. Vinayak Varma brings us surreal perceptions, while the main character in Fehmida Zakeer’s story must decide whether to manipulate her premonitions. We are grateful for the stories and hope you will appreciate them.
A forthcoming issue will be based on Mythology. Do contribute! Remember, it is not only the retelling we are interested in, but your perspectives.