The debut short story collection, Turmeric & Sugar: Stories by Anna Vangala Jones (Thirty West Publishing House), is a feast for the senses and a tour of the challenges of love, triumph, and regret. Throughout, Jones’s prose is a wonderful mix of magic realism and the sharp edges of life.
This writer’s superb artistry as a storyteller is evident. Readers will marvel at her keen eye for unique world-building, dialogue that rings true, detailing the trials of what it means to survive love and loneliness, and vivid descriptions of characters. Out of countless instances of Jones’s adept observations, one example is seen in the story, “In Twenty Years”. All of the characters come alive in their own distinct ways, as seen in this moment when the employee first meets the employer.
“There was no time to run, however, as she met the large dark eyes of a woman peering out at her through the glass to the right of the door. A tattoo of black and purple flowers sprouted along the woman’s brown neck like vines of ivy and clung there like weeds. Her hair was wild and free, but her irises, already delving their way into Manju’s flesh with bruising fingertips, were caged.”
The word choice “caged” within this flawless description is an impressive foreshadowing moment that reveals this character and her plight, as a reader will soon find out. A lesser skilled writer may present long explanations to reveal clues. But within her stories, Jones shows her expertise in immersing her reader into a variety of lives, with no words wasted. I have abundant admiration for this writer’s use of her instruments, expertly placed on the page.
Moreover, any reader will be struck by Jones’s ability to conjure otherworldly stories. Tiny gems like “Echo”, “Tomorrow”, “Her Song”, and others captivate with their ingenious narratives, from everyday ordeals to the mythical. “Sara’s Someone” is another brilliant sample of this writer’s creativity, which presents an imaginative take on an existential crisis.
This collection is a magnificently drawn map of our hearts.
Purchase details here: https://www.thirtywestph.com/shop/turmericsugar
Dan Crawley is the author of the novella Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019) and the short story collection The Wind, It Swirls (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2021). His writing appears in a number of journals and anthologies, including JMWW, Lost Balloon, Tiny Molecules, and Atticus Review. His work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize.