After reading volume one of Indrajit Garai’s short stories entitled Sacrifices – which I enjoyed a lot – volume two was much-anticipated by this reader. It was a pleasant surprise then, to recently find an email sat in my inbox, offering the second book up for review.
In this round of stories, there is a more international feel, instead of focusing solely on France. The demanding circumstances and struggles of the characters remain the same, however and retain the emotional impact of everyday struggles and problems. All walks of life depicted here, meaning plenty of variety in the works on offer.
Garai’s strength lie in humanising his characters, making the reader feel invested in the characters, sympathising with their trials and the things they do in order to survive; allowing us to examine ourselves through the protagonists. The important things in life can be so often forgotten, as these stories show so without spoiling anything I will succinctly give a brief outline of each story.
The Alignment takes the odious subject of hoarded riches and how it is moved around to the detriment of the workers who need the security. As well as the perception of social status regarding money and the people who have it. The sheer waste of money is highlighted along with legal but morally shady big business practises used everyday. Also there is the persona aspect of how easy it is to blinded by the gaining of wealth, instead of caring for those around us; which is the true richness of life.
The second story, The Changing Turf, is about contact with a different culture, the contrasts and fitting in. This story didn’t entirely convince me, although I sympathised with Nathan, I didn’t really like his character, he became a little annoying in some of his ways after a time. The ending a little obvious to me as well, and I felt this to be the weakest story of both of Garai’s books to date.
The final story, the titular The Eye Opener, which is the longest story takes up almost 40% of the book, (you can tell I am reading on the Kindle app with a statistic like that, and it clear that it is never going to be my first choice of reading) and deals with society’s views, rehabilitation and the state of some neighbourhoods. It’s up-to-date and pretty topical with talk about Brexit amongst other things, in case you haven’t had enough of hearing about that. Cedric is, for me, the most interesting of the characters on offer in the book with the most compelling story, although the ending didn’t have the emotional impact intended it was, nevertheless, a very rewarding read with a pleasing amount of social commentary.
The theme of money runs through each story and all highlight the struggles and disparity between those with and without means and asks the questions, has society lost its focus on people? Does it now only look out for its own short-term ambitions, to the detriment of those that the various systems have failed or at the very best hamstrung into poverty or is there a better way?