Book Review: Dispelling the Silence

Title: ‘Dispelling the Silence: Stories from Commonwealth Countries’

Publisher: Orient BlackSwan

Editors: G. Baskaran & S. Shanmugiah

‘Dispelling the Silence’ is an anthology of short stories, written by writers from the Commonwealth countries– India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, West Indies, Nigeria and South Africa. The collection, thus, introduces the readers to ‘the literature and sociocultural contexts‘ of these eight countries.

The book has been edited by S. Shanmugiah- Controller of Examinations in an Indian University and G. Baskaran- a Reader in English.

The Title…

The title ‘Dispelling the Silence: Stories from Commonwealth Countries’ deserves a special mention. The Silence that is being dispelled over here refers to the stray voices of the writers from the Commonwealth Countries. These voices were not heard because ‘the centre stage has been  taken by the mainstream literature, the literature of British Isles.

From lack of confidence to publication difficulties, there were several reasons for these voices remaining unheard. Colonialism, was at the root of all those problems. But this anthology acts as loudspeaker for those voices. The Collection, therefore, has been aptly titled.

Now the ‘Story of stories’…

 Dispelling the Silence provides glimpses of the lives of people living in different cultures. Each story is unique in its own way. Each story provides a panoramic view of the society, where it is set. Each story brings forth different living styles. Each story in the collection has been woven around familiar and unfamiliar situations, in a way, that enriches the overall experience of reading.

The Collection has 14 stories from notable writers such as Rabindranath Tagore, Mulk Raj Anand, Shashi Deshpande, Henry Lawson, Janet Frame, Chinua Achebe and Bessie Head, to name a few. As representative writers of their respective countries, the writers take the readers on an intercontinental journey.

Each story has a different regional setting ranging from an Australian bush to Nigerian marketplace in a small village to a Duty spot near a keekar tree in hot weather. Some writers ‘transport us to the interior of Indian homes.’ The stories explore varied themes such as problems arising from lack of communication, superstitions & its hold on traditional society’, insanity and its effect on other people and loneliness.

My favourite stories from the collection are ‘The Woodrose’ by Abburi Chaya Devi, ‘The Connoisseur’ by ,’The Bath’ by Janet Frame and ‘The Drover’s Wife’ by Henry Lawson. Besides these, others are also a great piece of writing. Every story has the power to appeal reader’s heart. There are only 2-3 stories that I did not enjoy reading much.

Thus, the book offers a good deal of treasure containing jewels from Caribbean, Indian and Australian lands.

Final take on the Book…

I feel this is an awesome book for the lovers of literature. But one should not expect typical stories having happy endings. The stories that we have here are not just stories, but a piece of art. It is indeed a ‘creative endeavour’ of writers from different continents and cultures.

I would recommend this book to everyone out there. You will love this book.

My Rating: ***** (5/5)

Available for purchase on and Infibeam.

What do you think about the anthology? Is there any similar book that you have read?  Do share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks.

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