The Other One: Stories (Juniper Prize for Fiction) (Paperback)

The Other One: Stories (Juniper Prize for Fiction) By Hasanthika Sirisena Cover Image

The Other One: Stories (Juniper Prize for Fiction) (Paperback)


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Set in Sri Lanka and America, the ten short stories in this debut collection feature characters struggling to contend with the brutality of a decades-long civil war while also seeking security, love, and hope. The characters are students, accountants, soldiers, servants. They are immigrants and strivers. They are each forced to make sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, choices. What they share, despite what they've endured, is the sustaining power of human connection.

An excerpt from the book:

"All I want to know is when you are coming? When are you bringing my sons, my family?"

She watched as a gecko, tinier than normal, skittered across the far wall. It disappeared into a small crack. The room was very hot, and she hadn't turned on the ceiling fan so that the family could save a little money. She took a handkerchief from her nightstand and wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead and the back of her neck.

"I can't leave malli alone here. He's making progress but—"

"It will be for two years only. Then you can sponsor him."

"The lawyer says it's not so easy."

"He's a grown man. Let the government take him. The government did this to malli. Let the government pay the price for his care."

Even though there was no chance that her brother Ranjith could hear her, Anoja dropped her voice. "Malli is all alone here. He has nobody but aiya and me."
Hasanthika Sirisena is associate fiction editor for West Branch literary magazine and a visiting professor at Susquehanna University. Her stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Epoch, StoryQuarterly, Narrative, and other magazines. Her work has been anthologized in The Best New American Voices and twice named a distinguished story by Best American Short Stories (2011, 2012). Sirisena has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and, in 2008, received a Rona Jaffe Writers Award. This is her debut collection.
Product Details ISBN: 9781625342188
ISBN-10: 1625342187
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication Date: March 4th, 2016
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: Juniper Prize for Fiction
"With precise and poignant detail Hasanthika Sirisena conjures up an entire and original world in these well-written stories.  Through the intimate portrayal of the  lives of  men and women caught up in Sri Lanka's turmoil she conveys all the uncertainty, the changing cultures,  the terrors, and hopes of our lives."—Sheila Kohler, author most recently of Dreaming for Freud

"In Hasanthika Sirisena's collection, she crafts a stunning array of voices and characters that captivate with deeply moving grace people struggling to find their place in the world. Set primarily in Sri Lanka and the United States, Sirisena creates understated stories with the skill of a fine artisan–with each story exploring the political and the private. As the characters live in the world, we see how not only Sri Lanka, but how family and war leaves its mark on every character–from housewives to teenagers, soldiers to low-level laborers. These stories are unflinching and honest and evoke the pain and exile of war. This is a collection that is not only important, it's pitch-perfect, necessary, and enthralling."—Nina Swamidoss McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians, winner of the 2014 PEN Open Book Award

"Holy moly, this is one of the best short story collections I've read in years. The beginnings of the stories grip you. The middles tighten their hold. The endings sound in thunder. The author follows a cast of characters, all of whom are haunted in various ways by the Sri Lankan civil war, around the globe—Kuwait, Australia, the US. In one story, the atrocities a solider committed are brought back to him by a menacing predatory shrimp. Elsewhere, two boys act out revenge on another by attacking his office with milk- and raw-turkey-filled Molotov cocktails. The characters in several stories fear and suspect the worst of their own family members, and through acts of great sacrifice and idiocy evidence those repressed fears in all the worst ways. If, as the author writes, the civil war in Sri Lanka created 'a whole new sick little alphabet'—LTTE, SLFP, UNP, JVP—the language here does the opposite: it makes of a terrible chapter of history, a work of art of great beauty, humor, and insight."—Jeff Parker, Juniper Prize judge and author of Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal

"Lucid and wise, the haunting stories in The Other One illuminate the lives of Sri Lankans at home and in the States, lives shaped by the legacy of civil war. This is an unforgettable debut, and Hasanthika Sirisena is a truly remarkable writer."—Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs

"These ten stories repeatedly take the backroads, shining lights into forgotten corners of human experience, and question whether typical immigrant or war narratives truly exist. Sirisena's leading men and women are unforgettable, from the accountant-cum-recreational cricket player looking for love to the daughter of a police chief inspector who suspects her father is morally and professionally compromised. The Other One is also a feminist work that pushes against patriarchal mores in both Sri Lankan and American life."—Leland Cheuk, The Margins

"Every now and then you meet a writer whose voice is so fresh and exciting and whose work is not only moving, but important—and you can't wait for everyone else to discover them. For me, Hasanthika Sirisena is one of those writers."—Celeste Ng, author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, Fiction Writers Review

"With The Other One, Sirisena explores the stories of Sri Lankans who leave and those who stay. As she does with the Sri Lanka's history, Sirisena does not choose sides. Rather, she offers us characters at crossroads, causing us to question what it means to deem somewhere home."—Heavy Feather Review

"An inherently riveting and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, The Other One: Stories will aptly serve to introduce American readers to the truly exceptional literary talents of Hasanthika Sirisena. The Other One: Stories is certain to be an enduringly popular and greatly appreciated addition to any personal, community or academic library Literary Fiction collection."—MBR Bookwatch

"Sirisena's characters are trying to fit in, to not be the other one—the one that is part of a minority, the one left out, or the one treated without respect or recognition. . . . The stories in The Other One, which won the Juniper Prize for Fiction, convey tragic, sad, hopeful, and yes, sometimes happy endings."—Rain Taxi

"Every story in the collection stands well apart from the others, is itself the odd one out. All stories and none are representative. None are superfluous. The Other One, despite its slimness, contains multitudes. Very few short story writers are this versatile or entertaining."—American Book Review