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Escape Velocity is an anthology of thirteen diverse contemporary short stories from India, woven around the extraordinary tales found in ordinary lives. Readers will resonate with these stories of life's many paradoxes that sometimes find happy resolutions, and sometimes can't be gotten rid of. There are stories of childhood, and lost innocence, of happy memories and dark secrets, of homecoming and alienation, of shrinking of the self and longing for freedom. In this geographically varied collection, settings ranging from a small town in Punjab to the metros of Delhi, Gurugram, and Kolkata. The action ranges across locales as intimate and immediate as the stream of consciousness narration of a character, to the external travails a city dweller couple face in trying to set down roots on the banks of the Brahmaputra. The language used is polished English prose, with rich shades of local intonations, be it the Kumaoni, Assamese, Punjabi or Japanese used by the protagonists in different stories.
With warmth, intimate vulnerability and honesty the authors reveal rich inner lives of their characters - people like you and me - everyman, everywoman, in the fast changing milieu of past and present day urban India.
In introducing the book with his insightful and heartfelt essay titled The Alien Insiders, acclaimed novelist, academic and literary critic Saikat Majumdar writes: "All great art is an endless tension between the alien and the familiar, a tension impossible to resolve. The ongoing synergy of this struggle creates the entropy for fiction...Here are stories that will draw you into a world you know. And then, when you are not looking, shock you into the spell of the beautiful and the dangerous. For those of you about to dip into them for the first time, I'm jealous of the treat that awaits you."
Escape Velocity has been conceptualised, edited and curated by Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, and features the writing of Anjali Gurmukhani Sharma, Dinakshi Arora, Donna Abraham, Gunjan Pant, Ilakshee Bhuyan Nath, Kasturi Patra, Kavita Bhashyam Jain, Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, Manmeet Narang, Megha Consul, Shweta Markandeya, Ruby Kapoor and Vanessa Ohri.
To quote Saikat Majumdar again, “The stories in this collection are art in the true sense of the term. As you read them, you cannot but feel their deep rootedness in contemporary, quotidian life... To be most richly alive is, in some ways, to forget one is in the midst of life; we do not notice the air we breathe (or notice it only when it is deeply polluted, i.e., below life quality)... all of them are real, honest, and telling, because all of them are more life than art."
The short story anthology Escape Velocity was developed during the Paradox series of workshops conducted by Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, founder and facilitator at the writing group Write & Beyond. It is the work of thirteen writers refining their work with critically acclaimed authors and literary critics Saikat Majumdar and Devapriya Roy.
Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, writer, editor and curator of this collection trained as a sociologist and worked in qualitative market research with the WPP Group for long. In the last few years she has taken to wearing many different hats, foraying into writing, sustainability consulting and advocacy, and farming and mountain living. Kiranjeet's essays, book reviews, short fiction and poetry have featured nationally and internationally in literary journals and news magazines like LIJLA, LitMag (New York), Huffington Post, DailyO, the Ladies Finger and She The People TV. In 2014, she founded Write & Beyond.
Anjali G Sharma is an engineer and a telecom business professional by training and work experience. She is a Delhi University rank holder in Information Technology and has a management citation from Harvard. On a thought through sabbatical, this mother of two away is helping underprivileged children and youth, and writing about things that move her. She confesses that her passion for writing was unearthed because of motherhood, and a spouse busy on an entrepreneurial path. Apart from her blog (medium.com/@anj_writes), she also contributes periodically to online publications. ‘For the Love of Likes’ is her first published story.
Dinakshi Arora is a curious explorer of life and sees everything around her with a sense of wonder. She writes prose and poetry in four languages – English, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi. Like any Indian worth their salt, she’s done her time in the IT industry as a programmer. A self-professed philosopher, she loves to question everything, including her propensity to question. She can be contacted at www.dinakshi.com
Donna Abraham has been an Instructional Designer for 18 years now, but is a novice at writing fiction. She authored "Or Forever Hold Your Peace" on a whim and has a short story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Indian College Students. She also posts short stories at donnaabraham.in, juggernaut.in and Readomania.com and has been working on her second novel for quite a while now.
Gunjan Pant Pande meandered into writing as a profession, which later turned into a passion. Due to some grand scheme of things in which began when she topped her Masters in Journalism and Communication, doors opened for her at the Hindustan Times and then at the Times of India, besides a host of magazines. Today, having travelled the globe, she is back in India, and is an avid and popular blogger and freelance feature writer. She is excited about her latest foray into the wondrous world of short story writing.
Ilakshee Bhuyan Nath is a writer based in New Delhi. She has worked on television and radio as a presenter, been a narrator for documentaries, and trained corporate employees in effective communication. She has contributed travel articles for many journals, both print and digital. Most recently her short fiction and essays have been included in Jaggery Lit, Café Dissensus and in two print anthologies - The Best Asian Short Stories 2017, published by Singapore based Kitaab International Pte Ltd, and The Others, published by Storymirrors.
Kavita Bhashyam Jain is a homemaker and mother to two girls. After trying her hand at various professions like banking, teaching and a short stint at SEWA (Self Employed Women's Association), she is now back her first love, writing. ' Slipping Through My Fingers', her short story in Escape Velocity is her first published work
As is evident from her essay, Kasturi Patra loves to read and has recently plunged into writing full time. In her previous life, she’d worked in the domains of consulting, market research, and financial analysis. Her writing has so far been published in a few print and online anthologies including, Bengal Write Ahead (Rupa Publications, 2016); Kunti's Confessions & Other Stories (Women's Web, 2017); When Women Speak Up (Women's Web, 2017). She is currently working on her first novel. She lives in New Delhi with her husband and a house full of pets. She blogs at Viakat.blog.
Manmeet Narang experienced the comfort of words early in her life, and it is with this passion she founded Sailing Leaf, a creative writing platform for children, where she takes on the role of a facilitator and helps children find their self-expression.
Her journey began with writing rhymes and stories for children. Her first adult fiction was published as part of the anthology ‘The Other’. Her articles have appeared in Daily O, The Better India and Women’s Web. Other than stories, Manmeet finds magic in raindrops, fireflies, sunrise, mountains, and children. She can be found at www.sailingleaf.in and www.manmeetnarang.com
Megha Consul is a neonatologist and practicing paediatrician. A student of life, she feels she is learning all the time from her patients, her ten-year old daughter, her amazing husband and her immensely talented friends. When she isn't attending to life and death scenarios in the Newborn ICU, she is gardening, farming, singing on stage, writing, holding women's and girls circles and reading. She is passionate about nature, feminism and small acts of kindness. Her varied interests means she has many, many stories to share. Fiction is a fresh avenue of expression she is learning to traverse, in order to share these stories.
Ruby Kapoor is a lazy 56 year old is a writer of sorts and all things odd. A PR person by profession and theatre enthusiast by passion, she gave up her 29 year old career to pursue theatre full time and co- founded a theatre company -Urban Suburban Productions- with four amazing soul sisters in 2010. When she's not writing scripts, conducting workshops or directing/ producing plays, she writes short stories & poetry and cooks and travel - not always in this order.
Shweta Markandeya was born in an argumentative family – squashed between two siblings and two lawyers as parents to negotiate with. She spent most of her working life, post the mandatory engineering and management degrees, in Mumbai – as investment banker and private equity investor. Motherhood put her on another track and now she reads, writes and travels. Her seven year old daughter is the inspiration for her travel blogs and posts.
For Vanessa Ohri, writing has been a way of life. A creative consultant and theatre personality, she has had an enduring and thrilling relationship with words, from her Copywriter days, penning headlines and commercials for big brands, to her current passion - scripting plays and writing poetry for dramatization. She is the author of ‘Play it Right’, a book on drama for schools, published by Scholastic; has taught Advertising at NIFT, Delhi, and is a co-founder of the Gurgaon based theatre company, Urban Suburban Productions, where she has conceptualized and directed a host of theatrical productions. Her poem on Inclusion, ‘I Am Special’, was featured in the previous edition of the Main Course CBSE English text for Class 10 and has been translated into Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Braille. 'Deluge', featured in Escape Velocity, is her first published short story.