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Book Review: Blue

Blue. Like the blue films this anthology is a tribute to. Blue with all the excitement of the forbidden and darkened rooms. The revolution has come to books, and with a tad more aesthetic, erotica is slowly carving a niche of its own.

Helter Skelter: Blue
Blue book cover.

Suddenly, everybody’s writing it and more and more people are reading it. This is the second anthology of erotica by Tranquebar that I’ve reviewed (the first was Slither by Urmilla Deshpande) and it’s definitely the less original one. One of its drawbacks is that it is an anthology of both short stories and poetry, and erotic poetry is hard to get right. It meanders into cliché and the erotic element seems to be there for no better reason than as an ornament.

Undercover by Ameena Hussein is probably the strongest narrative in this collection. She gets into the mind of a frustrated, unfulfilled wife who is inadvertently drawn into a bizarre affair with a stranger. She goes to the movies alone one day because it reminds her of a time when her husband and she would visit the cinema frequently together. An incident that starts off as molestation soon grows into a daily ritual of mutual gratification in the theatre. They never talk, and never truly look at each other, but this seems to suit them both. Veysee by Shehan Karunatilaka looks at the murkier areas of desire with phone and virtual sex. A man talks to teenage girls to get off, and the girls are consenting, bored individuals, who receive no payment for this interaction. Just the mutual comfort in distance and the ability to be whoever they want to be.

The rest of the book is fairly ordinary with a few tales of teenage sexual awakening, coming out of the closet, lesbian love, and non-consensual sex. The book has made an effort to represent the various aspects and kinds of sexual relations but has been unable to do anything original with them. It’s a disappointing book coming from Tranquebar, it is overall a mediocre anthology. The back cover ends its summary with: ‘If you only ever read one book like this in your lifetime—make it this one.’ Though the number of readers who buy literary erotica is increasing, it’s still in its beginning stages in India. So the question of reading just one book of this kind may be a valid one, in which case I would say that this is not the collection to begin and end your journey with.

[Tranquebar; ISBN 9789381626238]

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Click here to purchase Blue: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories from Sri Lanka online.

Urvashi is a writer and a feminist. She trips over her own feet a lot.

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