I like short stories and All the Names They Used for God is an intriguing and unique collection with nine stories that examine how our lives go awry.
In “The World by Night” a young newly-married Sadie explores a series of caves beneath her home, getting lost in the beauty of the caves. This was a gorgeous story that I got as lost in as Sadie. In “Glass-Lung” a worker is injured in an industrial accident that seems to ruin his life, but then he finds a new lease on life. In “Logging Lake” Robert’s adventure with a woman he met online goes awry, probably more for her than him. While not specifically named, we are privy to John Milton’s conversations with angels in “Killer of Kings.” The title story “All the Names for God” introduces us to a woman kidnapped as a school girl and forced into marriage, quite likely inspired by the atrocities of Boko Haram, as she was forced to convert to Islam. Another girl from her school teaches her a valuable skill. “Robert Greenman and the Mermaid” is exactly that, a fisherman sees a mermaid and is entranced. “Anything You Might Want” is the story of a woman who loves too much until she realizes maybe not. Imagine if our first contact was with a species of blogs whose touch poisons us. Imagine how we might resist. That’s “Manus.” In “Pleiades”, two married scientists create identical septuplets by splitting a fertilized egg into seven. This is the story of one of the sisters.
Wow! That is an amazing variety of time, place, and people. There is continuity, though, a common theme of the unexpected, the intervention of fate, angels, science, and not necessarily for the better, taking people on a new trajectory away from their old lives and into the new.
I loved All the Names They Used for God. Anjali Sachdeva writes like a poet. There is this lucid quality to her prose, she uses restraint, writing with simple clarity. You can lose yourself in her work as in a dream. It all makes sense when you are reading it, even going down into caves or controlling your husband with magic or attaching a hand to your chest.
I love the variety, the creativity, and the fresh and imaginative stories. I can’t wait to read what Anjali Sachdeva has for us in the future.
I received an e-book of All the Names They Used for God from the publisher through NetGalley.