Once Upon a Time in the Future

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The Mahabharat, an ancient Indian epic, acts as the backdrop for Kulshreshth’s short story collection, Once Upon a Time in the Future. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from the epic, providing the reader with enough context to absorb the intended lessons and hunt for a similar lesson in each of Kulshreshth’s stories. Taking place during the distant past, present, and not-so-pleasant future, the stories beg the reader to ponder the most difficult questions in life. One story examines the makeup of a just life, questioning preconceived notions and stereotypes, forcing the reader to wonder: am I living a good and decent life? Could I do better? Another story propels the reader to a futuristic setting, a place where people communicate through telepathy and the Indian government has to make shocking decisions in order for society to thrive. In another, a spirit, very similar to one highlighted in the Mahabharatinteracts with Dharam Raj, a character living in present day India. The spirit poses questions meant to reveal Hindu values. Kulshreshth’s present-day-spirit asks a litany of questions, exposing the vast differences between the India of yesterday and the India of today.

Through each story, one idea rings true: people in power often make the wrong decisions. Kulshreshth cleverly chooses varying point-of-views for his stories, challenging the reader to piece together mysteries and question morality. However, some of his tales deviate too far from the Mahabharat, leaving the reader with more questions than answers. It is often necessary to reread the opening passage in order to understand Kulshreshth’s creative plot adaptations. Overall, when Kulshreshth takes us deep into the past, he successfully adds new layers and dimensions to the original story. Unfortunately, the present and future settings of his stories are not nearly as introspective.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 216 pages
Publisher Pratham Manjari Books
Publish Date 15-Dec-2013
ISBN 9789810780371
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue August 2014
Category Historical Fiction


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