Short Works Of Fiction

As a reader, I am drawn towards books that evoke complex emotions in me and have the power to break my heart, thereby having a long-lasting impact on my mind. Being an impatient reader, I prefer short stories and novellas over full-length novels. So, I am always on the lookout for shorter books that possess both substance and character- books that deliver a powerful lesson in the most humane and relatable manner.

Here is a list of books that are about 120-210 pages in length and are perfectly capable of holding your attention, just like a full-length novel. These books lean more towards eliciting an emotional response within their readers, with their nuanced observations, easy writing and characters that are relatable and stay with you for the longest time. Some of the books on this list discuss serious social issues with some quirky twists and are intricately paired with magically realistic and supernatural elements. The list also contains books translated into English from languages such as Telugu, Japanese, Bengali etc. The translations are refreshing and manage to hold on to the true essence of the original text.

Let’s take a look, shall we?


Before The Coffee Gets Cold

Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Geoffrey Trousselot (Tr.)

A chance to travel back in time and live a moment differently, but also without altering the outcome might sound like an experience you wouldn’t want to miss, but learning valuable life lessons in that process and creating meaningful relationships can make the experience a thousand times better. In a basement cafe, there is a chair that will help transport you back to one particular moment in the past, but there are strict rules that need to be followed. This book is perfect for readers looking for stories that connect us with everyday life.

Buy it here.


The Liberation Of Sita

Volga, T. Vijay Kumar (Tr.) & C. Vijayasree (Tr.)

Mythology has influenced the shape of feminism in Indian society. Volga, a strong advocate of feminism, picks up strong-willed women from the Ramayana and portrays them in a new light. Sita’s maturity and understanding of human nature, especially that of men comes from her encounter with certain female characters in the story, such as Ahalya and Urmila. The Liberation Of Sita makes us believe that women are equally capable of endurance and rebellion through a perfectly justified and logical tale that will sit well with the feminist in you. Pick this up if you’re looking for a refreshing take on feminism.

Buy it here.


Salt Slow

Julia Armfield

A girl as feral as her pet wolf, a mother battling patriarchy, and numerous girls who have to stand up for themselves every day are what constitute Salt Slow . It is an anthology that blends fantasy and reality into a tale that is relatable. Love and longing are looked upon in bizarre ways, sometimes with men turning into insects. This is a collection that dares to be different and yet touches us in innumerable ways. It is perfect for readers who understand metaphorical contexts and appreciate unique narratives.

Buy it here.


Bottled Goods

Sophie Van Llewyn

Alina and her husband, Liviu, face immense harassment in the hands of the communist government in Romania, after her brother-in-law defects to the West. After a series of torture sessions and painful interrogations, they decide to flee the country. But first, Alina has to face her true situation – an almost broken marriage and a mother who always gets what she wants. Ancient Romanian traditions that are brought up for luck and miracles add an edge to the story, turning a practical and dangerous situation into something nearly supernatural. If you believe in folklore, or are intrigued by it, here is a book that questions beliefs and changing realities.

Buy it here.


The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die

Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Arunava Sinha (Tr.)

Newlywed Somlata’s great aunt-in-law may be dead; however, she is intent on causing as much mischief as possible in the lives of Somlata and the rest of her family. A typical Bengali household comes to life and we see the metamorphosis of a reserved and shy bride into one who takes on the reins of her faltering family wealth and brings them back to their previous status. The story is about three women, very different from one another, with the odds stacked against them, and the manner in which each of them fit into the family portrait. This book is perfect for readers looking for a good time, a hearty laugh and a memorable story.

Buy it here.


Fever Dream

Samantha Schweblin, Megal McDowell (Tr.)

Samantha Schweblin’s Fever Dream introduces the concept of soul splitting, a situation that is neither favourable nor pleasant. Amanda, lying in a hospital bed and instigated by David, recalls the last few days of her life with Nina (her daughter) and Clara (David’s mother). An unnamed curse sweeps through their lands, affecting innocent children who fall into a deep sleep, only to perish within days. With events being narrated in a dazed fever-like state, Schweblin weaves a plot that questions the extent of a mother’s love, the recollections during one’s final moments, and provides an answer every character (including the reader) is looking for but is unable to grasp. If you’re fond of stories with unreliable narrators, controversial social issues and endings that might not be for the faint-hearted, this book is the perfect choice for you.

Buy it here.


The Therapist

Nial Giacomelli

This is the story of a couple who seek help from a mysterious therapist while recovering from the death of their only son. Simultaneously, an epidemic is sweeping through the U.S.A., leading to a significant shift in reality and circumstances for this family distraught with grief. Nial Giacomelli captures the despair and agony of a parent losing their only child, and gives the narrative a gothic and surreal touch. An unreliable narrator in search of answers while dealing with a major crisis at home and in the world outside is what makes this story a memorable experience. A must-read for those who like to connect with characters emotionally but also believe in the existence of mysterious forces that guide us.

Buy it here.


Ha Ha Hu Hu

Vishwanadha Satyanarayana, Velcheru Narayana Rao (Tr.)

A mythical three-headed creature from Hindu mythology is found on a street in London. He talks about the simplicity of religion and how modernisation is unnecessary even as people around him debate over whether to let him live or to experiment on him in the name of science. This book is a brilliant take on the domination of Westernisation over traditional values and is perfect for readers who like reading about ideologies and differing perspectives.

Buy it here.


Moshi Moshi

Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (Tr.)

While the world is busy filling her head with lies and false assumptions, Yocchan takes it upon herself to find out the truth and understand the reason behind her father’s death. Banana Yoshimoto’s analysis of Yocchan’s psychology is nuanced, and her way of writing emotions is raw and intense. Moshi Moshi is sure to touch hearts with its theme, fluid narration, and characters who are so close to our true selves. The book is recommended for readers who want to have a better understanding of a father-daughter relationship and the psychology of a girl who is experiencing trauma.

Buy it here.


Lie With Me

Phillipe Besson, Molly Ringwald (Tr.)

Lie With Me reads like a semi-autobiographical story, and transports us to a society where LGBTQ was a foreign concept, unacceptable and frowned upon. Phillip, who is socially awkward, and Thomas, who is quite the charm among the girls, find themselves attracted to each other and start a secret relationship. But an abrupt break-up sends them into a downward spiral. While Phillip vents his emotions through his writing, Thomas chooses a bitter life, hiding his sexuality and going about his life as dictated by social norms. Phillipe Besson’s take on the whims of a broken heart, unreasonable social norms and the unspoken stories and sufferings of people with a sexuality deemed ‘not normal’ will engross you and leave you craving for a happy ending. A great representation of the LGBTQ community, this book is for readers who are interested in knowing how society has changed its perspective when it comes to this community and their rights, and how people are affected and shamed for their sexuality.

Buy it here

Mridula is biotechnologist by profession and a writer by choice. She is an avid reader and wouldn’t mind losing her sleep (and sanity) over a good book. A biotechnologist by profession and a writer by choice, she writes about books that are close to her heart and believes that she can convince almost anyone to pick up her favourite books. Follow her bookish journey on Instagram.

Read her articles here.