Manju Kak delves into the lives of ordinary people, mostly from India, revealing the nuances of their existence with a mix of engaging humour and compassion. The cross-section are often the underprivileged and the dispossessed. From the depressive visionary Inquilaab in search of an incorruptible India, one that no longer exists, to a young boy in a boarding school dealing with his mother’s cancer, to the angry Mrs. Lamba reminiscing about her youth in pre-Partition Lahore, these stories collectively span the cycle of life, from childhood to old age. Often enough an almost elegiac sadness hovers, as if the author is regretful of the times we now live in. Significantly, many of the protagonists are women—the mother-in-law daughter-in-law duo in ‘Twilight’, the lonely housewife in ‘By the River’, the spinster in ‘Split Second’, who struggle to express their identity, a quest that has stamped feminist history this past century. Taken as a whole, the collection leaves a fragrance that lingers long after closing the pages of the book.
‘It is the story telling and the unfolding of the characters which is engrossing. The Nana, aunts, neighbours, servants are so beautifully woven into a mesh so representative of the society of the time.—Indu Liberhan, The Book Review
‘Filled with insights and pithy asides, Manju Kak’s writing has a tremendous energy that draws you deep into the lives of the characters she introduces into your world.’—Anita Nair, Indian Literature – Sahitya Akademi Journal of Letters
‘Rarely one comes across short stories that move you and stir your emotions. A compilation of short stories with each story packing a punch of a full-length book, Just One Life And Other Stories by Manju Kak is like a set of windows that let you peep into different lives.’—Life and Its Varied Hues, The Tribune