Saturday, July 11, 2009

Short Story Saturday: "Asal" & "Better Half" by Sana Krasikov

The last couple of weeks I have continued to read Sana Krasikov's collection of short stories, One More Year, catching snatches of reading time here and there. Each of the stories in the collection are immigrant stories--at least on the surface. The author captures some of the difficulties of leaving behind what is known and starting out again in a foreign land. Despite everything the characters are struggling with, there is still a sense of hope.

Sana Krasikov isn't just writing about the immigrant experience, however. She is also writing about the complexity of relationships. In the two stories, "Asal" and "Better Half" we see two women making an effort to strike out on their own. One will leave behind a lover who cannot make up his mind between her and his wife. The other is a woman who must decide whether or not to leave her abusive husband, a man she rushed into marriage in hopes of staying in the country. Both women are tied to the men they love. Both must make difficult choices.
Now that she had become invisible, her past had also started to slip away, to another orbit, almost beyond her reach. [excerpt from "Asal"]
"Asal" is a beautifully written story, one about love and compromise. Guila is in love with a married man. For all intents and purposes, she was his wife, however. They went through a spiritual ceremony, even if not a legal one. He lived with her and her daughter as if he is her husband, her daughter's father. His wife and mother to his children kept a separate house. Guila had thought he was no longer sleeping with his wife, but one day the wife shows up at the door with evidence that says otherwise. Guila decides to move on, at least physically. She leaves Rashid, but even as she goes on with her life, he still holds her heart and she his. A part of her still holds out hope he will choose her. How much should be compromised for the sake of love?
"You love me," he'd told her the second night they'd spent together. She thought he'd been kidding but then he'd said, "You do. If I died tomorrow, you'd come to my funeral and say you loved me." "Don't say things like that, she'd scolded, while a huge tear slide down her cheek. Maybe she really did love him that time. After all, who else was there to? [excerpt from "Better Half"]
In "Better Half", Anya and Ryan have been married only 10 months. Anya finds herself looking back, wondering how she reached the place where she is now. The man she thought she loved turned out to be a monster, jealous and controlling. But he is all she really knows in her new country.

Both Anya and Guila are at different points in their lives. Anya is young, a new immigrant, struggling to survive. She is desperate and in a vulnerable place. Guila is much more sure of herself, than Anya. She has so much going for her on the surface, but she does not have what she wants, what she most needs. The two women have suffered betrayals and are on a similar path, that of discovering what it is they most want and deciding if they are ready to move on.

Sana Krasikov has again demonstrated that she is a gifted short story writer. She gets into the hearts and minds of her characters, drawing me into their lives and experiences. Guila and Anya stayed with me long after I finished reading their stories.

Have you read a short story lately? I'd love to hear about it! Be sure and drop by Ready When You Are, C.B. for Short Story Sunday & The Book Mine Set for Short Story Monday, the hosts for this event.

© Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty 2009
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I'm new to the short story genre, but am really liking it. I will be submitting my first for C.B. James' short story Sunday tomorrow!

  2. I'm not really a fan of short stories but I do have a couple of this type of books in my TBR. They can be pretty good... :D

  3. Sandy - I look forward to your Short Story Sunday post!

    Alice - I wasn't always a fan, but the more I read them, the more I've come to appreciate them.

  4. I haven't read any short stories for a while... but then again it's not like I've lots of short stories either. :P

  5. Melody - I have quite a few collections and anthologies that I have yet to get to. This is a good motivator for finally getting to them. :-)

  6. I'm loving short stories. It's been only a little over a year since I have purposefully added them to my reading diet and wish I did sooner. Thanks for the heads-up on this collection.

  7. I enjoy reading short stories, but don't always get to one every week. These two sound really interesting. I think I am going to have to check out the book that all these stories are coming from. By the way, I love your short stories image. :)

  8. With three of us out there pushing short stories maybe we can start a trend.

    I like your image as well. I have to get one of those.

  9. Joy - I like how you put that--adding them to your reading diet. :-) That's exactly what I've done too!

    Rebecca - Thank you! I'm really interested in exploring the online short story resources more, but I really want to get through the collections I have. I'm not sure I'll get to read one every week, but I am sure going to try.

    C.B. - It would be great to see more interest in short stories. We'll keep at 'em. :-)


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