That Glimpse of truth: 100 of the finest short stories ever written

International Fiction

There was a man who married for love, but lived to repent at leisure. He was a toymaker by trade, and his passion for precision work was known across the Nine Worlds. It was said that he’d made a mechanical bird that sang as sweetly as a lark, and great battalions of clockwork Hussars with sabres at the ready. His dolls looked as if they might draw breath; his engines blew real steam from their stacks, and were fed with tiny coals by mechanical stokers wielding tiny mechanical shovels. His dolls’ houses were marvels in miniature; with tiny gilt mirrors on bedroom walls reflecting tiny four-poster beds and tiny children playing with baby dolls no bigger than a grain of rice. Everything was perfect in the toymaker’s world; down to the smallest detail. Well –
Everything but one thing. His wife.

Of course, they’d been in love, once. But now, some years later, the craftsman began to see that his wife was no credit to him. She was no beauty; her judge­ment was weak; her housekeeping was slovenly. She loved her husband, to be sure, and he loved her too – in his way. But was it enough, he asked himself? Didn’t he owe himself more than this?

One day the toymaker noticed that his wife’s hair was going grey. It dis­pleased him to see it; and so he made her a new head of hair, spun from skeins of gleaming gold, and stitched it into place on her scalp, as he had done so often when he was making dolls. The wife said nothing, but looked at herself in her dressing-room mirror, and touched the bright, stiff strands of her hair, and remembered a time when he had thought she was perfect in every way.

For a while, the toymaker was pleased. But then he started to notice that his wife often spoke rashly or out of turn, or said things that he found unnecessary, or even downright stupid. And so, as she slept, he cut out her tongue and re­placed it with a mechanical one, sleek as a silverfish, crisp as a clock. After that, the toymaker’s wife was always perfectly precise in her speech, and never said anything stupid, or dull, or bored him with her chatter.

All was well for a time after that, until the toymaker noticed that his wife often looked at him with reproach, and sometimes wept for no reason. It made him uneasy to look at her, and so he made her a new pair of blown-glass eyes that were bright and approving, and never shed tears, or seemed to express anything but contentment. He was very proud of his handiwork, and for a time, he was content.

But soon he noticed his wife’s hands; hands that were often clumsy and slow, and so he made mechanical hands for her, and fixed them into place. His wife’s new hands were as white as milk, and as clever as any automaton’s, and so he made a pair of feet, and then a pair of perfect breasts, so that little by little, over time, he had replaced every flawed and worn-out part with clockwork and gleaming porcelain.

“At last, she is perfect,” he told himself, looking at his beautiful wife. But still, there was something missing. Still, she wasn’t quite as he’d hoped. And so the toymaker opened her up to see what part of her inner workings he might have neglected to tune or correct. He found everything in place – except for one thing he had overlooked. One small, insignificant thing, so deeply embedded in the intricacies of clockwork and circuitry that he hadn’t noticed it. It was her heart
—it was broken.

“I wonder how that could have happened?” he said, reaching for his watch­maker’s tools, fully intending to make his wife a new heart to replace the broken one.
But then he looked at her, lying so still and beautiful and pale upon the work-­bench; quiet and lovely in every way; every part shiny and gleaming.

“Why, you don’t need a heart at all, do you, my darling?” he told her.

And so he took the broken heart and threw it onto the rubbish heap. And then he turned back to his wife and kissed her lovely silverfish mouth, looked into her shining blown-glass eyes and said:

“At last. You’re perfect.”

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International Fiction

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“Translation as Adventure, Obsession and Collaboration”

Join us for this week’s #TranslationThursdays session with Sampurna Chattarji, poet, novelist, teacher and translator par excellence. She has eighteen published books to her credit. Her translation of Joy Goswami’s Selected Poems is a Harper Perennial; and Wordygurdyboom! – her translation of Sukumar Ray – is a Puffin Classic. She is currently Poetry Editor of The Indian Quarterly. (more…)


“Announcing this week’s #TranslationThursdays session with Arunava Sinha, award-winning translator and Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Ashoka University. Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and nonfiction into English, and from English into Bengali.

Participate in the session and find out how Arunava began his translation journey, as he speaks about “My First Translation”. If you’re looking for some inspiration this week, this is it.

Registration link:

Thank you, and see you there!

#FUNtasticBookWeekends continues at Storyteller Bookstore!
This Sunday come spend time with Shabnam Minwalla as she does a dramatised book reading of her own book, Nimmi’s Bizuper Birthday.
The book is about Nimmi who is waiting for her birthday and is excited about a new mobile phone, and a party. Of course, it all comes with some disastrous issues including a competition birthday party by someone else! This will be followed by a word game!
5:30 PM onwards this Sunday, register here to attend the session –
Powered by Talking Cub / Storyteller Bookstore/ LBB, Kolkata


A Cloud Called Bhura: Climate Champions to the Rescue ‘The book is educational without being at all preachy and encourages children to think. It’s a must-read for the new generation.’ Book review of A Cloud Called Bhura: Climate Champions to the Rescue

The Assassination of Indira Gandhi: The Collected Stories ‘Some of [the stories] are truly complex, and some revel in simplicity. What is evident throughout is the humorous and satirical voice of the author. The understated humour freely sprinkled on the pages will not escape your attention. And this satire is serious literary satire… The Assassination of Indira Gandhi- The Collected Stories of Upamanyu Chatterjee is not a light weekend read, but instead needs to be treated like a true classic.’ Book review of The Assassination of Indira Gandhi: The Collected Stories

The Drunk Bird Chronicles ‘One hundred years of pandemonium is the phrase that best describes Malay Chatterjee’s thoroughly enjoyable debut novel… Irreverence and wit keep readers engrossed even as triumph and tragedy unfold, skeletons tumble out of closets, and love, lust, hope and greed keep Braganza and Co. going.’ Book review of The Drunk Bird Chronicles

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