Almas Akhtar is a blogger and a freelance writer who immigrated to the United States in 1993. Her short story collection, Miseries, Illusions and Hope, echoes her experiences and observations, showcasing views and cultural differences that may be different, and yet familiar to many Americans.
To begin with, this is a short collection of only fifty-two pages featuring ten different stories. Short story collections are often difficult to review as there are typically a few stories that readers will like, and a few that they will not enjoy as much as the others; being a collection from just one author makes it easier, but this book does suffer the usual quality disparity. The first four stories in the collection are by far the strongest works in the book. They summon empathy in the reader, showing how financial difficulties, divorce, and sacrifices made for family are universal struggles. The stories are short, poignant, and effective. The book’s writing style is of a bare bones simplicity, and that simplicity is what makes the stronger stories in this collection work as well as they do.
The later stories in the collection begin to drift more to a short collection of morals or lessons, rather than actual stories. Instead of briefly losing yourself in someone else’s experiences you feel as if you’re being taught life lessons from a grade school teacher. This shift makes the later half of the book have less impact than the stronger first half, and is a bit disappointing.
You won’t find incredibly flowery prose or deep, multidimensional characters. You will find short, coherent, and simply written stories that aptly tie into the themes based on the book’s title. This isn’t a book on female perspective, or even an immigrant perspective despite the many Pakistani characters. What you’ll find is a human perspective; an intimately familiar struggle with our many miseries, illusions, and hopes.
[signoff predefined=”Sponsored Review Program” icon=”book”][/signoff]