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Happy Stories, Mostly

144 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published March 2022
ISBN 9781925818949

Happy Stories, Mostly

Norman Erikson Pasaribu

Translated by Tiffany Tsao

The first book of fiction by young queer Indonesian writer Norman Erikson Pasaribu, author of the acclaimed poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus.

Happy Stories, Mostly is a playful, charged and tender collection of twelve stories – a blend of speculative fiction and dark absurdism, often drawing on Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Batak and Christian cultures. Pasaribu’s stories ask what it means to be almost happy – almost to find joy, almost to be accepted, but never quite grasp one’s desire. Joy and contentment shimmer on the horizon, just out of reach.

In one story, an employee is introduced to their new workplace – a department of Heaven devoted to archiving unanswered prayers. In another, a woman on holiday in Vietnam attempts to find solace following the suicide of her son. In a third, a young man befriends a university classmate obsessed with verifying the existence of a mythical hundred-foot-tall man.

Throughout the collection, queerness is a fact of life from which tragicomic events spring, amidst the forces that keep people from those whom they yearn for most, and the miraculous, melancholy ability to survive such loneliness. In the words of one of the stories’ narrators, ‘I work in the dark. Like mushrooms. I don’t need light to thrive.’

About the Author & Translator

Norman Erikson Pasaribu

Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s debut poetry collection Sergius Mencari Bacchus (Sergius Seeks Bacchus) won the 2015 Jakarta Arts Council Poetry Competition, was shortlisted for the 2016 Khatulistiwa Literary Award for Poetry and named by Tempo as one of the best poetry collections of that year.

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Tiffany Tsao

Tiffany Tsao is a novelist, translator and critic. Her translation of Sergius Seeks Bacchus was awarded a PEN Presents prize and a PEN Translates grant, and shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Translation Prize. She lives in Sydney.

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