Title: I Am An Executioner: Love Stories
Author: Rajesh Parameswaran
Narrators: Lina Patel and Neil Shah
Publication Year: 2012
Pages: 272 (audio length: 9 hours 48 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
An explosive, funny, wildly original fiction debut: nine stories about the power of love and the love of power, two urgent human desires that inevitably, and sometimes calamitously, intertwine. In I Am an Executioner, Rajesh Parameswaran introduces us to a cast of heroes — and antiheroes — who spring from his riotous, singular imagination. From the lovesick tiger who narrates the unforgettable opener, “The Infamous Bengal Ming” (he mauls his zookeeper out of affection), to the ex-CompUSA employee who masquerades as a doctor; from a railroad manager in a turn-of-the-century Indian village, to an elephant writing her autobiography; from a woman whose Thanksgiving preparations put her husband to eternal rest, to the newlywed executioner of the title, these characters inhabit a marvelous region between desire and death, playfulness and violence. At once glittering and savage, daring and elegant, here are wholly unforgettable tales where reality loops in Borgesian twists and shines with cinematic exuberance, by an author who promises to dazzle the universe of American fiction.
I picked up this book because it was nominated for the short story categories of The Audies this year, and I’m very glad that I did.
I Am An Executioner is a series of stories that are linked primarily by thematic elements (though there is a reference to the first story in one of the later ones, this was an anomaly). Quite a few of the stories are also about characters from India or who are Indian immigrants to America. Generally, though, the stories stand on their own.
Parameswaran’s writing caught me right from the beginning. You can really feel the emotions of the characters through the stories, even when they’re doing things that you wish they wouldn’t. I found myself, in a few stories, wanting to reach through my headphones and tell them, “no! don’t do that!” or “do this!”, which isn’t often how I feel when I’m reading a book. Usually, I’m happy to be a passive reader, but something about these stories made me feel as though I was emotionally invested in what happened.
The narrators did a great job on the audiobook. The characters in each story were vastly different from the others, and Patel and Shah managed to make them unique through inflection or pacing. They added emotional depth to stories that were already extremely well-written.
I’m really glad that I heard of this book through the Audies, as I probably wouldn’t have come across it otherwise. I definitely recommend that you give I Am An Executioner a try, whether in audio or traditional print format. It’s an innovative collection of stories that I really enjoyed.