Happy Stories, Mostly
Written by Norman Erikson Pasaribu
Translated by Tiffany Tsao
A masterfully crafted anthology that meshes different genres to put queer characters in stories typically featuring hetero characters and narratives.
LONGLISTED FOR 2022 BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
Playful, shape-shifting and emotionally charged, Happy Stories, Mostly is a collection of twelve stories that queer the norm. Inspired by Simone Weil’s concept of ‘decreation’, and often drawing on Batak and Christian cultural elements, these tales put queer characters in situations and plots conventionally filled by hetero characters.
The stories talk to each other, echo phrases and themes, and even shards of stories within other stories, passing between airports, stacks of men’s lifestyle magazines and memories of Toy Story 3, such that each one almost feels like a puzzle piece of a larger whole, but with crucial facts – the saddest ones, the happiest ones – omitted, forgotten, unbearable.
A blend of science fiction, absurdism and alternative-historical realism, Happy Stories, Mostly is a powerful puff of fresh air, aimed at destabilising the heteronormative world and exposing its underlying absences.
Read if you: ever had to explain to a kid why they couldn't watch Lightyear in the cinemas.