It’s 2022, a year that once seemed so far in the future that we should have robots, alternative universes, Extendable Ears and streets like Singapore. And we do have versions of these—though maybe not yet the streets—in the metaverse and the technology we use daily. Many of these ideas had their beginnings in fiction, imagined by inventive writers and storytellers whose words created entire worlds for us to lose ourselves in.
And so, for the first issue of the year, we decided to focus entirely on fiction and the little worlds we create for ourselves.
The prompt we shared with writers was a simple one: “All you need is now”, born of the realisation we have all come to over the past two years. Plans we make may not work out quite as we expect them to; we have become aware “that we are not really at home in our interpreted world”, as Rainer Maria Rilke put it, and we are okay with that.
Each writer has considered the concept of the present differently, and, as you will find, they have brought complex yet beautiful dimensions to it.
We started with the idea of commissioning short stories to mark just the first day of the year, New Year’s Day, but as we spoke to authors and heard their ideas, we realised this wouldn’t do them justice. We had enough to feature works of fiction all month long. So we have decided to run one piece of original fiction, written specially for our readers by some of the best contemporary writers, through January.
The writers we invited responded with enthusiasm and alacrity, reflecting the joy, sadness, hope, resilience, dread, anticipation, ennui, the sense of just treading water, and even some of the silliness of living through a pandemic.
Starting with Akhlaq Ahmed’s visual story on the cover, we have 10 stories that create immersive little worlds for you. From Perumal Murugan and Mahesh Rao to Sharbari Zohra Ahmed and Manoranjan Byapari, each writer’s story captures a different aspect of living.
The gifted N. Jayachandran took on the challenge of illustrating these short stories in record time, cheerfully incorporating suggestions and changes to suit our finicky requirements and bringing his own brilliant interpretation to each tale. The result is an anthology of short stories to keep you company all through 2022.
Happy New Year. May it be one filled with your own stories of wonder.
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