Ranging from the Persian Gulf to the American South, from ancient Greece to pre-Islamic Arabia, Ali Eteraz's stories observe an eccentric cast of characters longing for freedom. Illicit lovers playing with Koranic numerology; an enslaved man turned into a beast; a young woman rejecting her father's faith; theologically inclined brothers caught in a dragnet; a resentful poet's cynical humanitarianism. Sensual and surrealist, the stories in Falsipedies And Fibsiennes unsettle and surprise, but with tenderness.
I really liked this book. It was a collection of short stories mostly centered on characters of Middle Eastern origin, encasing many genres such as politics, romance and magic realism.
My favorite were A Lawyer in Islamistan, The Monster and The Hunter of Virgins and A Lawyer in Islamistan which had a nice twist ending that you don’t expect, while The Monster offers the point of view of the Minotaur, the antagonist of Greek hero, Theseus.
All the stories are engaging and draw the reader in immediately. The genres jump from magic realism, to interpretations of the Greek Minotaur to vampire/werewolf Slovenia mythology and to the jinn of Islamic mythology. I found it interesting to try and figure out what was going on in each story and what genre was going to be represented next.
This book introduces a culture and mythology (Islamic and Slovenia mostly) that I am not exposed to on a daily basis so I think it was fascinating to learn more about it.
One of the few downsides of the book was its use of unfamiliar words. I know many of the words aren't translatable and add to the Muslim culture Ali Eteraz is representing, but it does take one out of the narrative if you have to stop and look up what word is being used and what it is.
There was one story I took issue with, called Volkodlak. At first I liked it, because of the introduction to Slovenia mythology involving the titular creature, a volkodlak (a mix of a werewolf and vampire). The main character is pretty much a slave to the woman in this story and the narrative makes it debatable whether he truly understands what is going on when his owner uses him for ‘other’ reasons besides looking pretty. The twist at the end is surprising as well. I didn’t see it coming and not in the good way. I don’t feel as though it was adequately foreshadowed in the text or in the woman’s actions and it left me very confused.
Ultimately, the book is well-written and enjoyable. While there are words that I was unfamiliar with it was nothing a quick Google search couldn't fix. Falsipedies and Fibsiennes by Ali Eteraz is a great read and I highly recommend it to fans of the short story.
Reviewed by Jazmin Gousse
Series: Essential Prose Series (Book 106)
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Guernica Editions (September 1, 2014)