A moving collection of short stories, Escape Routes displays different forms of crisis revolving around familiar and intriguing characters. Naomi Ishiguro drew from the world of fairytales to add splashes of the extraordinary to her portrayed dilemmas. There’s a boy waiting for a wizard to help him escape a sheltered life. You’ll also find a rat catcher trying to please squabbling royalty. This debut book review will focus on two of the collection’s other narratives, each reflecting the personal and imaginative range weaved into all nine stories.
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Favourite Short Stories
A newlywed couple looking for a sofa attend an auction, but instead come home with a large stuffed bear that has a strange effect on both of them. As the husband tries to figure out what about this awkward thing is actually bothering him, the final revelation surprises him the most, making him look at his marriage and relationship in a new light. This is a story about perspectives, as well as the comfort and inspiration you can find in the unlikeliest of places. Escape Routes plays with these themes quite a bit, while unravelling tales of “cages”, human and man-made.
Ishiguro’s debut collection contains surreal fiction, but also some magic realism. This story is the best example, following a farm boy obsessed with space. When a lodger at his house turns out to be a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering, he strives to impress him. In the process, he opens a space portal in the linen cupboard. But Escape Routes is interested in the psychological more than the fantastical, so the bizarreness of the situation only serves to amplify the tale’s study of human creativity, determination and wisdom. Thinking outside or inside the box is one thing. Contemplating the actual box is another.
Naomi Ishiguro’s debut is worth the hype as it mixes modern fantasy and reality to deliver deep emotional and social messages. The fairytale lightness makes these nine short stories very easy to absorb and explore. Escape Routes is the perfect book to sit back with and enjoy morsels of human experiences, some unique, others very familiar.
Paperback release date: 21 January 2021
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