Happy Stories, Mostly
Norman Erikson Pasaribu
In their stunning fiction debut, queer Indonesian writer Norman Erikson Pasaribu blends together speculative fiction and dark absurdism, drawing from Batak and Christian cultural elements.Longlisted for the International Booker Prize, Happy Stories, Mostly introduces “one of the most important Indonesian writers today” (Litro Magazine). These twelve short stories ask what it means to be almost happy–to nearly find joy, to sort-of be accepted, but to never fully grasp one’s desire. Joy shimmers on the horizon, just out of reach.
An employee navigates their new workplace, a department of Heaven devoted to archiving unanswered prayers; a tourist in Vietnam seeks solace following her son’s suicide; a young student befriends a classmate obsessed with verifying the existence of a mythical hundred-foot-tall man. A tragicomic collection that probes the miraculous, melancholy nature of survival amid loneliness, Happy Stories, Mostly considers an oblique approach to human life: In the words of one of the stories’ narrators, “I work in the dark. Like mushrooms. I don’t need light to thrive.”
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