Litost

Sliced Stories

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
104 Pages
Reviewed on 01/06/2021
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Author Biography

Samir Satam is a poet, short story writer, photographer and an IT professional.

Being an avid reader, a film connoisseur, Samir Satam believes that the voice of art traverse boundaries of languages, states and nations. He is also a traveler with a passion for exploring local as well as gourmet delicacies in each new village, city or country that he steps in.

In addition to pursuing his interests in wide spectrum of subjects, he also works for Kaafiya – The Poetry Festival as a content curator and is actively involved in the movement of taking poetry to the mainstream readership.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Litost: Sliced Stories is a collection of short stories around a similar atmosphere and mood, written and compiled by author Samir Satam. Written for adult reading audiences owing to their dark emotive themes and the presence of some contextually relevant abusive language, this is a melancholy collection that explores the titular feeling of ‘litost’, a many-layered sensation of loss and longing with deep aches and sudden sharp edges. The twelve stories in this collection certainly live up to that mantle, taking us to true and deeply human experiences from people in different walks of life, but all of whom are going through some part of the litost emotional process.

Author Samir Satam has crafted a superb collection of tales, each one as delicately detailed and intricately planned as the last. One of the things which I really enjoyed about these works was the nature of the character study and presentation, giving us all the ‘show’ of a myriad of mixed emotions without having to ‘tell’ at any point. Each movement and finely tuned piece of dialogue serves a purpose, whilst the cinematically described atmospheres and settings give us the complementary or contrasting mood to heighten emotions. Some personal favorites were the rhythmical and poetic Hungry Creatures and the chilling cultural realizations of Honor, which really struck me deeply and gave me pause for thought. Overall, I would certainly recommend Litost: Sliced Stories to fans of accomplished writing which flows with the lyricism of poetry but also has a high level of emotional intelligence indeed.

Lois Henderson

Litost: Sliced Stories by Samir Satam, with a foreword by the renowned poet Dr. Ampat Koshy, who is an Assistant Professor in the English department of Jazan University, Saudi Arabia, is a collection of short musings on various aspects of life, as seen through a range of diverse characters. Some of the pieces are poetic soliloquies, including “Hungry Creatures,” in which a photographer wanders through an urban landscape looking for the perfect shot and “Moongazing,” in which the lyrics of a song penned by Gulzar Sahaab blend with the narrator’s recall of his close physical relationship with a woman whom he held dear. Others contain more exterior action, but, nevertheless, are very much involved with the interior monologue of the protagonists, such as “What did we lose?” which concerns a son finding his father for the first time in his life, on his mother’s fatal overdosing on sleeping pills, only to discover the devastating nature of the broken relationships concerned.

Litost: Sliced Stories by Samir Satam is a thought-provoking collection that will no doubt leave the reader wondering about the complexities of life. The graphic nature of the violence that is portrayed in some of the stories reflects the underlying angst that besets a society torn apart by inner conflict. It has at least some of its roots in the religious divide between Muslims and Hindus that so characterizes the state of India. Definitely fodder for the more intellectually and esoterically minded, these stories are marked by their exploration of character and by their tone of longing and regret, in many instances.

Jon Michael Miller

The title Litost is defined in the introductory material as a Czech word that synthesizes “grief, sympathy, remorse and an indefinable longing.” After reading all twelve short stories or “sliced stories” as author Samir Satam has it, I think I understand the title. It is as if Satam has cried out his desire for meaning across the universe. It is at once a wail of horror and a shout of joy. Although each story is distinct, there is a gathering mood as one leads into the other. The setting is India, Mumbai and its environs, and each entry has its own protagonist and its own plot, but they are all joined by what I can only call a “mood.” And I would describe that mood as mystical, whimsical, and all-encompassing. Certain themes emerge--love, betrayal, reincarnation, loss, death, oneness. And the settings are slum alleys, libraries, roadsides, funerals, home interiors, bustling streets, cold seashores, and people’s hopes and fears, each story a poetic narrative—mundane, yet haunting, profound, searching. Mr. Satam is a poet, and these stories are exquisite prose poems.

I cannot express how much I enjoyed this book. It has a haunting aura about it and, of course, the unfamiliar settings and expressions, the names—Raghav, Mandira, Arnav, Shalu—the occasional vocabulary—namaazis (Moslems on their way to prayer), wadaa paa (potato balls), kadhaai (kettle), and the songs and poems (with translations). Also, the fanciful personifications—the moon hiding like a thief, city lights scratching with their nails, a song breathing. And in one story, “The Trespasser,” even the appliances and furniture talk to the protagonist. Then amid all this, profanity, suicide, murder, to show the other side. Though the stories are quite short, it was impossible for me to breeze through them because of the Hindu-esque conundrums especially about life after death and our own past lives and behind it all, the great love of life both in the flesh and in the spirit. All of it is ineffably One. Litost is spectacularly brilliant and challenging fare. Or, read the stories only for the mood, a transcendent one that might change your daily perspective a little. For me, reading it was … well, an honor.

Soumya Sreehari

What did we lose in the library? A trespasser moongazing and running night errands encounters hungry creatures waking up. The walk will honor the home until we meet again. These seemingly unconnected sentences are strung together using the titles of the short stories in Litost. Samir Satam has weaved together a highly unusual collection of stories in Litost. They are all set in innocuous places that could be familiar to anyone. However, once you read the stories, they stay in your mind for a long time. They linger, they question, they prod, and they compel you to think differently. Each story is short and to the point, quick to read, butit takes longer to digest the nuances. An intriguing read to tide over a lazy evening or weekend.

Litost is a Czech word that represents an amalgamated mixture of emotions. It is a fitting title for Samir Satam’s short story collection that evokes myriad emotions in the reader. The stories are set in everyday life situations yet inspired me to think beyond the everyday. They made me question reality in some instances and explore different scenarios in others. ‘Honor’, ‘What did we lose’, ‘A trespasser’, ‘Night Errands’, ‘Waking Up’ haunted me long after I finished reading them. 'In the library' and 'Until we meet again' brought a wistful smile to my face. Many of the stories in the collection revolve around tragic subjects, but they are thought-provoking indeed. I recommend this to contemplative readers who find solace in reflection and introspection.

Lit Amri

“Litost is a Czech word with no exact translation into any other language. It designates a feeling as infinite as an open accordion, a feeling that is a synthesis of many others: grief, sympathy, remorse, and an indefinable longing.” Samir Satam's collection of 12 short, or rather, sliced tales reflect a variety of feelings of Litost. In The Library starts the collection, about a protagonist who is deeply affected by a story and “realizing that possibilities can be brought to life by writing them.” What Did We Lose? follows a son's intent to find his biological father. Instead, he discovers a tragedy. Although set in modern times, austere religious traditions and teachings still rule the hearts of humans in Honor: “They are surprised to see the ever-boiling Hindus and Muslims finding peace in their hatred for love. Their act of choosing peace amongst themselves to reach out for the lovers and quench their common thirst for blood sends shivers down Raabia’s spine.”

Hopelessness can stir people toward an unthinkable action as a man tries to get himself killed after his life turned upside down in Night Errands. However, fate has a different plan for him. How does one deal with a broken heart? In The Walk, a man takes a long trek to deal with it. In Hungry Creatures, the theme is simply about one's passion for a craft, as a photographer searches for the perfect picture and moment to capture; "The ordinary has an essence of extraordinary when peeped at through a lens." Overall, the narrative of the collection is evocative and deeply contemplative about being human. Each story will have a different indelible effect on readers. Despite the stories being mainly encapsulated in 'litost', love, determination, hope, and bravery are also part of the themes. Illuminating and poetic in its own way, Litost is an impressive work from Samir Satam.