By Rajesh Parameswaran
Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95, 260 pages
Rajesh Parameswaran has put together a selection of love stories that are anything but typical. His short stories range from the thoughts of a fugitive tiger on an unintentional killing spree, to a geriatric love triangle played out in film, to interspecies relations on an alien planet where killing your mate is the norm. Each story speaks of love in its own way: violent, tender, thoughtless, fleeting, strong, empty, natural, romantic, enduring. How is love expressed? And what does that expression lead to? Love is ubiquitous, but it’s also incredibly diverse, as the characters in I Am an Executioner show.
This debut collection is bold and fiercely imaginative, captivating and surprising. Parameswaran uses traditional Indian influences reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri’s work to form a cultural foundation for his stories. And he has an astonishing ability to capture unusual perspectives and show alternate facets of reality that brings Steven Millhauser to mind. Each story draws you in and keeps you there, enthralled, to the end. I Am an Executioner is dark and intense, quiet and strong, a fascinating study of love in all its forms.
Reviewed by Leah Sims