Families and Other Natural Disasters
Chosen by Farhana
Families and Other Natural Disasters is Anita Goveas’s debut collection of flash fiction. This is a form that has exploded in popularity in recent years and, if this collection is anything to go by, it’s easy to see why these stories are so addictive and satisfying to read.
Anita is British-Asian, based in London and works for a charity that supports unpaid carers. She is also on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction and an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitterzine. Anita's stories have been published widely and she has a number of nominations and awards under her belt, including: a 2018 Creative Futures Literary Award; a nomination for Best of the Net, Best Microfictions and a Pushcart prize in 2018; two stories in Best Microfictions 2019; and she made the BIFFY50 2018–2019 and 2019-20 lists.
The fifteen stories in Families and Other Natural Disasters are grouped under the sub-headings of ‘Fire’, ‘Water’, ‘Wind’, ‘Love’ and ‘Families’, and there is certainly an elemental power coursing through these tales. Subjects and imagery are deliciously varied, for example: one woman walks into a volcano; a tsunami threatens to sweep away another; brief encounters at aquariums and zoos; sailing lessons; candlelit dances; falling in and out of love; and finding acceptance. The prose also throbs with sensory details, not least of all the aromas and textures of samosas, butter chicken, dosa, aloo chaat and kulfi. Yum!
In particular, familial bonds are explored, stretched and transfigured into startling new forms in this collection. From the regional to the international to even the intersteller, there is both a directness and a sense of mystery in all of these stories. And speaking of familial bonds, that stunning cover features Warli art from Maharashtra in India, which is where Anita's family are from.
Varied and inventive in terms of character, cultural details and structure, Families and Other Natural Disasters is a welcome and deeply satisfying debut.