Book Review: ‘Stolen Hours and Other Curiosities’ by Manjula Padmanabhan

Where Imagination Meets Reality


Book Title: Stolen Hours and Other Curiosities
Author: Manjula Padmanabhan
Publisher: Hachette India
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-9357312066
Date Published: Aug. 21, 2023
Price: INR 425

Stolen Hours and Other Curiosities by Manjula Padmanabhan Book Cover

Book Review

In her captivating anthology of twenty-five stories, Manjula Padmanabhan applies her distinctive narrative style to both imaginative futures and a reflection of our present reality. An accomplished writer, artist, cartoonist, and playwright, Padmanabhan’s unique upbringing outside of India as a teenager and her current dual residence in the US and New Delhi have deeply influenced her work. Her literary repertoire includes critically acclaimed titles such as “Getting There,” a travel memoir, and the initial two volumes of a science fiction trilogy titled “Escape” and “The Island of Lost Girls.”

Within this remarkable collection, readers will encounter many thought-provoking scenarios, ranging from opulently adorned party attendees suddenly finding themselves unclothed to a youth capable of pilfering time itself. From mosquitoes that transmit Gandhian pacifism to a bleak future where canned air is the lifeline, Padmanabhan’s stories pose pressing questions about our society and its trajectory, leaving us pondering the very essence of our existence and the path we are traversing.

With a blend of humor, intrigue, and profound insight, “Stolen Hours and Other Curiosities” presents a fusion of science fiction with an unmistakable Indian flavor, all intertwined with the enigmatic substance of the dark matter, ensuring that you remain captivated from start to finish. The stories in the book are a mix of science fiction and fantasy with a uniquely Indian twist. They explore themes of identity, power, and the human condition.

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This eclectic collection is an electrifying, dazzling, and thought-provoking journey into uncharted literary realms. It epitomizes Manjula Padmanabhan’s storytelling prowess, delivering original, often disquieting, and consistently contemplative narratives. Through this anthology, Padmanabhan showcases her storytelling finesse, effortlessly navigating between compelling visions of the future and the everyday realities of our world.

In one of the stories, ‘The Other Woman’, Mandodari bathes in pigeon blood, visits shopping malls, and uses electronic devices. This is just a sample of Manjula’s SF verse!

As a master of her craft, Padmanabhan paints imaginative landscapes of what lies ahead while simultaneously offering a poignant reflection on our present society. “Stolen Hours and Other Curiosities” is a powerful literary work that will seize your attention until the very last page, leaving an indelible mark on how you perceive the world. A special mention for the attractive cover page!

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