Tokyo Cancelled – Ranadas Gupta


Thirteen passengers are stranded at an airport. Tokyo, their destination, is covered in snow and all flights are cancelled. To pass the night they form a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and tell one another stories. Thus begins Rana Dasgupta’s Canterbury Tales for our times.

In the spirit of Borges and Calvino, Dasgupta’s writing combines an energetically modern landscape with a timeless, beguiling fairy-tale ethos, while bringing to life a cast of extraordinary individuals-some lost, some confused, some happy-in a world that remains ineffable, inexplicable, and wonderful.
A Ukrainian merchant is led by a wingless bird back to a lost lover; Robert De Niro’s son masters the transubstantiation of matter and turns it against his enemies; a man who manipulates other people’s memories has to confront his own past; a Japanese entrepreneur risks losing everything in his obsession with a doll; a mute Turkish girl is left alone in the house of a German man who is mapping the world.
Told by people on a journey, these are stories about lives in transit, stories that grow into an epic cycle about the hopes and dreams and disappointments that connect people everywhere.

So I recently read Tokyo cancelled, rather finished it.
I was reading it for a while now. It had about thirteen short stories, all told by different people who get stranded in a place because their flight got cancelled.
At first it was a light read. I usually am not the sort of person who would read short stories, but these fit well with me.
After a certain point the magical realism got to me.
Some stories were rushed and written in haste, whereas others were long and dragged.
There were beautiful and innovative stories as well. Very evocative and mention worthy but most stories were just stories.
There was nothing more to them.
The stories also had the same tone. Sometimes the style or the vantage point changed but mostly they were just stagnant.
I had hoped to like this book and I did too, but not as much as I’d heard about it.
If you’re looking for good magical realism stories, this is a recommendation. But if too much magical realism is a lot effort then I’d recommend to pair the read with another book.

– Painting Stories


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