Black Lawrence Press
November 20, 2009

Anatolia and Other Stories

Dear Black Lawrence Press Fans,

We are excited to introduce a writer possessing exceptional mastery of the short story form, of whom we expect great things in the future. Anis Shivani’s debut collection, Anatolia and Other Stories reveals tremendous maturity and confidence, as he grapples with the most troubling issues of the new global order.

In “Dubai,” we meet an undocumented Indian worker about to lose the fortunate backing of a privileged Emirati; in “Tehran,” all the strife of modern Iran is congealed in a persecuted Baha’i novelist utterly at odds with the censoring fundamentalist regime; in “Manzanar,” the ghosts of America’s own persecution of a once-reviled minority come alive, as the diaries of an interned Nisei man evoke similarities with the recent past; in “Profession,” waves of ambiguous guilt complicate the adoption of a Vietnamese boy by an aging but still avant-garde Midwestern academic couple; in “Gypsy,” the customs of a Hungarian family collide with New World expectations in rural 1950s Indiana; in “Independence,” the scion of a leading Muslim business family fights the deluded certainties of the patriarch, informed by truths already disappearing in the immediate aftermath of partition; in “Conservation,” a young Chinese-American conservator resorts to extreme measures to prevent what she perceives as the desecration of a beloved Watteau painting by overzealous restorers at a Boston museum; and in the title story, a Jewish trader in a coastal trading town in the Ottoman empire wonders how he could have been made a target of persecution despite his undying loyalty.  In all these stories, the past engages with the present (and even the future) not in the clichéd sense of hanging over as oppressive burden, but as a fluid dynamic to be contested with and reorganized, according to the capacities of individual will.

These tightly connected stories, whose novelistic depth is often reinforced by multiple points of view, present a picture of a world in enormous transition.  Sometimes, individuals fail to do what’s necessary to salvage their dignity, but if so, they see their faults.  Sometimes, they heroically rise beyond expectations, and while doing so hint at a more humane future.  Always the characters are deeply appealing, fully realized, sympathetic to the core, and—in a word—unforgettable.  You will savor the strength of the narrative vision, and by implication the sense of the world as one, despite false divisions and demagogic attempts to exclude and marginalize.

Anatolia and Other Stories is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

About the Author

Anis Shivani is a fiction writer, poet, and critic in Houston, Texas, who studied at Harvard University.  His story “Dubai” has been awarded Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize.  His fiction, poetry, and criticism appear in Georgia Review, Threepenny Review, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Agni, Colorado Review, Boulevard, Pleiades, Harvard Review, North American Review, Times Literary Supplement, London Magazine, and other journals.  A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he frequently reviews books for newspapers and magazines.  He is currently finishing a novel and a book of criticism.

Advance Praise

“Anis Shivani demonstrates his versatility as a writer as he takes us around the globe in stories that juxtapose old and new, east and west, with characters that do their best to navigate the generational/religious/cultural/socio-economic tensions inherent in our global economy.  Shivani’s observations are dead-on, especially when dealing with themes of loss, family dynamics, and the subtleties of power.  This is a solid collection that offers the best of all worlds: skilled writing flavored with detailed cultural nuances in stories that are timeless and universal.”
— Laila Halaby, PEN/Beyond Margins Award-winning author of Once in a Promised Land

“Anis Shivani has an enviable narrative reach.  He populates worlds that are psychologically compelling, socially acute, and morally challenging.  Reading Anatolia and Other Stories, we feel that life has been lived deeply and then—the hard part—served up fresh to the senses.”
— Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies and My Sky Blue Trades

“I’ve read these stories with intense interest.  Anis Shivani is an original, and his work interrogates the historical moment with insight and passion.  He looks at this mysterious thing called ‘multiculturalism’ with a fresh eye, never accepting the status quo, always probing and thinking.  The forces that keep a lid on emerging thought, on sharp political thinking, had better take cover.  This is unusual and interesting work.”
— Jay Parini, author of Benjamin’s Crossing and The Apprentice Lover

“Anis Shivani’s debut collection of stories reveals him to be one of the most exciting young writers in the States. What I especially admire in his work is the seamless union of his extraordinary intelligence with his intensely empathetic feelings for his characters and for the endlessly mysterious experience of existence itself.”
— Richard Burgin, author of The Identity Club and The Conference on Beautiful Moments

“In Anatolia and Other Stories, Anis Shivani does no less than deliver a world.  Read together, these smart, sure stories form wild, magnetic patterns on the brain; I’m left believing that seemingly random occurrences might add up to something more than what I’d imagined.”
— Julie Shigekuni, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award-winning author of Invisible Gardens

“Contemporary American fiction tends to favor style over substance, inactivity over action, ambivalence over judgment, irony over assertion, solipsism over a wide and encompassing worldview.  As Nobel secretary Horace Engdahl recently noted, the U.S. doesn’t participate in the world’s ongoing literary dialogue.  But now comes Anis Shivani and his first book of fiction, Anatolia and Other Stories.  Already known for his penetrating, erudite, and brutally honest literary essays, Shivani has now joined the ranks of America’s best fictioneers.  The echoes we hear in these short stories harken back to the masters, Chekhov, Anderson, Kleist, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Flaubert, James, Kipling and Sartre.  No postmodern games here, no winking coyness—just solid, international storytelling.  No new voice in recent memory is as weighted with intelligence and understanding of the human animal as that of Anis Shivani.  To be sure, Engdahl spoke too soon.”
— Eric Miles Williamson, PEN/Hemingway Award-finalist author of East Bay Grease

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