Advance Praise for Dysfunction:
This book is not for readers who like their short fiction uplifting, but rather for pragmatists interested in the intricacies of human frailty, the art of an unblinkingly unhappy plot, and the depth of dysfunction across families, friends, and foes.
Beginning with "The Cottonwood Borer", a compact and powerful story told by a young girl about her mother's desire to be reincarnated as a as the titular figure, each story examines wildly different characters, from a young Indian girl who can't live up to her parents standards in "Asha Ma", to a lonely woman who buys storage units hoping to find emotional satisfaction in their unknown contents in "Whatcha Bid". The stories are most successful when they are at their darkest, displaying allegorical brilliance on the scale of a Sanskrit epic.
Profoundly moving and intimately-told, these stories will stir a reader to tears, or bring out an unexpected smile. The woman still searching for love, even after everyone around her has given up, a baby boy dismissed by his grandparents, the obsession over a pancake race in a small Kansas town… Manthiram pulls you into these disparate worlds and proves that family dysfunction—at its most heart wrenching, its most comical—transcends all races.
—Kavita Daswani, author of Bombay Girl, Lovetorn, and others
The stories of Annam Manthiram’s Dysfunction drift and return, like the mother’s strange and tender promise to come back to her child as a Cottonwood Borer in the first story. There is a pain here, a gruesomeness felt in the hearts of Manthiram’s characters—and, we see, in our world—that we try to turn away from. We wish we could. But with stories as brutally beautiful as these, we never will.
–Nicole Louise Reid, author of So There!
Dysfunction is a most arresting and compelling collection of stories, and because of their unexpected moments of comic bruise and lyrical intensity, I found myself thinking for a long time about these people and the trees and leaves and flowers, and other humans, they loved. That is testament to Annam Manthiram's grace with language and her way of looking at the world.
—Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here and A Million Nightingales