A review of ‘Phoenix Fled’ by Attia Hosain- small gifts taste good.

This collection of short stories was a fascinating if uneven read. Some of the tales were memorably crafted, while others left few traces behind them. Nevertheless, between them they conspired to make a vivid tapestry of a subcontinent in transition. A pervasive sadness gave additional flavour to the work.

In some ways, this was a hymn to tradition. In that sense, it could be construed as a reactionary work. Political idealism was mocked, progress was dismissed. However, there was evidence of a sympathy with ordinary people that seeped into the stories. She was able to portray how cruelty between individuals can lead to great unhappiness.

Ms Hosain was not from a poor background, and this showed in the text. However, she felt that her gender had deprived her of educational opportunities which her male counterparts had had. Hence she knew what injustice was, and this gave her sensitivity.

When it comes to style, the author was able to start her stories effectively enough. However, she did use the odd redundant word on occasion- this prevented her art from being quite as poetic as it might otherwise have been.

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