Third Eye Rising
Murzban F. Shroff
ISBN 978-1-952419-02-7 222 pages $18.00
Third Eye Rising named one of
"The 31 Best Books of 2021 (So Far)"
by Esquire Magazine
From the Author of Breathless in Bombay and Waiting for Jonathan Koshy comes a diverse collection of India-sensitive stories.
Third Eye Rising explores the neurodiversity of India through two of the country’s most compelling aspects: family ties and spiritual faith. In a land where divisions of caste and class threaten survival, where the religious are corrupt and the corrupt religious, and where dogmas and superstitions impede economic and individual progress, Shroff shows how spiritual realizations impact daily lives and how they help withstand circumstances of corruption, greed, betrayal, prejudice, and personal loss. In the title story, “Third Eye Rising,” a young wife must prove her innocence to her sadistic in-laws; in “The Kitemaker’s Dilemma” a nomadic kitemaker takes it on himself to save a melancholic boy from exile; in “Bhikoo Badshah’s Poison” a migrant youth, employed in the city, attempts to shed the burden of his caste; in “Diwali Star” a retired police inspector draws on the events of the epic Ramayana to redefine his relationship with his sons; in “A Matter of Misfortune” two childhood friends have a face-off over the two faces of India: urban and rural; in “Oh Dad!” a dutiful son takes it on himself to protect his father from an unscrupulous taxman; in “An Invisible Truth” an employer delves into his manservant’s life only to get a life-changing insight into his own. Through these stories, we learn how in India it is spiritual faith that unifies, inspires, and frees its recipients from the bondage of struggle. Shroff has tackled his subject—the darker side of India—with the full democracy of his imagination and an empathy that believes in the eternal unity of man.
Murzban Shroff’s fiction is steeped in the most ancient of Indian folkways, and at the same time engaged with the various shocks of twenty-first century modernization. These stories treat their subjects with Chekhovian simplicity, and also partake of Chekhov’s eerie transparency: that sense that he has given the reader everything without seeming to do anything at all. Third Eye Rising is the best work to date by a writer whose gifts have always been remarkable.
—Madison Smartt Bell, author of Barking Man, All Souls’ Rising, and Anything Goes
The stories of Third Eye Rising feel like tales from another time, with all the characters of Shakespeare, the suspense of 1001 nights, a Panchatantra returning to life in our time. A boy fears his father, the Ramayana plays on an Inspector’s television, marriages are tested, a village harbors secrets, animals domestic and wild pass through imbued with meaning, wisdom lurks in the most unlikely places. Murzban Shroff has invented a mythology for our time, simple stories that open like blooms and surprise us by singing, voices timeless and urgent and moving.
—Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants, The Remedy for Love, and
The Girl of the Lake
Such thoughtful and elegantly-built stories here, never skirting the complex ways we interact, talk to one another, live together, pull apart. Shroff demonstrates deep insight about our relationships and the forces that test their strength and survival.
—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
A splendid collection, beautifully crafted, full of dreams, fake marriages and endless longing. Shroff is a captivating storyteller.
—Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Murzban Shroff is a great storyteller, a great psychologist, and a great stylist, all the things that would also make him an excellent purveyor of the short story form as Third Eye Rising powerfully indicates. I admire his work.
—Rick Moody, author of Hotels of North America and The Long Accomplishment
Praise for Breathless in Bombay
“Like James Joyce’s Dubliners, Breathless in Bombay is a story collection that has the range and fullness of a novel. Shroff’s empathy for his characters is filled with wisdom and great-heartedness, and his people and their city linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned.”
Ron Rash, author of The World Made Straight, One Foot in Eden, Chemistry and Other Stories, and Serena
“Murzban Shroff leads you through the chaos of Mumbai with an avuncular arm around your shoulder and a spring in his step. Not since V.S. Naipaul’s A House For Mr. Biswas has the discomfort of people in their society been so engagingly chronicled.”
J. Robert Lennon, author of Mailman, Pieces for the Left Hand, Happyland, and Broken River
“In this excellent short story collection, Murzban Shroff distils the delirious reality of Bombay into a vivid, multi-layered collage that’s nothing short of stunning. Shroff writes with an energy and intensity equal to his subject and has given us an extraordinary book that satisfies on every level.”
Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and Beautiful Country Burn Again
“A collection that chronicles the deep chasms in contemporary Bombay. Shroff’s narration is consistently clear-voiced; his focused setting and carefully chosen themes give the collection a strong structure. Stories as engaging and complicated as the city to which they pay homage.”
The Kirkus Review
Praise for Waiting for Jonathan Koshy
“What a delicious irony sits at the heart of Murzban F. Shroff’s Waiting for Jonathan Koshy: the central character is almost larger than life, having done the things we all might dream of doing to serve others in desperate situations; but in his own life, for his own welfare, he is, in many ways powerless. By magnifying the heroic, Shroff unflinchingly portrays our human vulnerability. Waiting for Jonathan Koshy is a fascinating reading experience from a deeply skilled writer.”
Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize Winner
“Waiting for Jonathan Koshy is a splendid portrait of its quixotically hard-hustling hero. Murzban Shroff’s kaleidoscopic image of Koshy’s passage through the complications of his journey offers a remarkably frank and revealing view of twenty-first century Indian life.”
Madison Smartt Bell, National Book Award Finalist
“A modern-day classic probing into the heart of man. Certainly a work of genius.”
Ruby Malshe on Amazon
Murzban F. Shroff is a Mumbai-based writer. His fiction has appeared in over 65 literary journals in the U.S. and UK. He is the recipient of the John Gilgun Fiction Award and has garnered six Pushcart Prize nominations. His short story collection, Breathless in Bombay, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in the best debut category from Europe and South Asia, and rated by the Guardian as among the ten best Mumbai books. His novel, Waiting for Jonathan Koshy, was a finalist for the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize. His third book, Fasttrack Fiction, serves up a varied collection of literary nuggets for the digital reader. Third Eye Rising was born out of Shroff’s travels to the villages of India.