Introduction

When I began writing the stories that eventually made up my debut collection, Each of Us Killers (Sep 2020; 7.13 Books), I had no grand theme or design in mind. I gravitated instinctually to writing about working life concerns because a) I’ve held different kinds of jobs since my teenage years and am interested in how we negotiate our work and personal identities; and b) more often than not, my way into a character’s life and identity is through the work they do.
 
That said, because I wasn’t conscious of this as the driving theme for most of my fiction, I didn’t look, at the time, for short story models focused on the working life. It was only after, when I was querying agents and publishers in 2017-2018, that I looked for comparison points. What I found was that, while there were a few story collections centered on work (see my reading list at The Rumpus) and definitely a lot of work-related novels (see my reading list at Electric Literature), there were very few story collections from writers of South Asian descent that focused on work. There are likely many reasons for this, not least of which is that the publishing industry likes books from our community to check off the usual tropes and stereotypes.
 
So, for this personal anthology, I went looking through some of my favorite literary magazines for stories by writers of South Asian descent about working lives. I also wanted to spotlight more writers who either don’t have books out yet or who aren’t known to the western world because their works are in regional South Asian languages. Putting these twelve stories together in this personal anthology reminded me, yet again, of the rich diversity of the South Asian region, even though the publishing industry prefers the usual stories of slums, terrorism, immigrantism, religious fundamentalism, and arranged marriage. South Asia is so much more than just those stories as, I hope, you’ll see from the selection below.

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