Halloween is merely a cover--our lives seem plenty steeped in horror this year, confined within physical and psychological walls, breathing in particles that could be fatal and contagious. Perhaps reading some spooky fiction, instead of scaring us, can offer some welcome escape and the relief of finding one's struggles reflected on the page. These horror novels published in 2020 in Bangla and English promise to do just that.
TINY NIGHTMARES: VERY SHORT STORIES OF HORROR
(Black Balloon Publishing, October 2020)
Edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto
Tiny Nightmares is a playful compilation of flash fiction about miserable vampires, mind-reading witches, and serial killers who frequent Uber. Inventive, contemporary, and thought-provoking, the stories are frightening because they take intimately real issues of human civilization, from racism and global warming to homelessness, addiction, and social media.
(Anindya Prokash, 2020)
Nidiya is visiting Khandoker Bari in Comilla, which her father just recently purchased. No sooner than she reaches is she haunted by the spirit of Khandoker, who has roamed the premises for close to 40 years. Laila, once Khandoker's wife, had exactly the same face as Nidiya's. Nidiya decides to leave the house, seeks the help of Kalu Fakir, even falls in love with a man named Rommel, but to no avail--her life seems perpetually in danger of the zealous spirit.
REALITY AND OTHER STORIES
(W W Norton & Company, September 2020)
Lanchester's collection of horror stories for the digital age first spawned in 2017, when he wrote and published the short story "Signal" for the New Yorker, inspired by Henry James' horror novella The Turn of the Screw. This and the seven other stories in this debut project traces the sinister implications of technology and contemporary life, teasing out, in a way similar to Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, one's worst nightmares related to video games, audiobooks, iPads and streaming platforms, and strangers who never really are what they seem from the outside.
(Sheba Prokashoni, 2020)
Aneesh Das Apu
Scientist Trina Mrinmoyee has come to Kolkata to solve the mystery of her partner's disappearance. At the same time, people across multiple cities have suddenly, inexplicably begun to murder each other horribly. No one knows what catastrophe awaits the fate of hundreds of thousands of individuals.
THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS
(Saga Press and Titan Books, July 2020)
Stephen Graham Jones
Four Native American friends, out hunting on lands that are meant only for tribe elders, shoot repeatedly at a herd of elk on a dark, snowy night. One of the animals killed by one of the men had been carrying an infant calf inside, which remained alive. In unexpected and enduring ways, this hunting continues to haunt the men. The book is touched by explicit instances of violence and gore, as well as less tangible, unsettling horror, all while exploring the coexistence of the traditional and the contemporary in Native American life.
THE HAMP: PLACE OF NO RETURN
Stuck in a cave facing an unknown creature, two individuals stare into a mysterious pair of eyes. Eyes wrought with chains, blood leaking out of its corners. They might belong to a snake, but could easily belong to some other creature or a supernatural being. A push, a shove, a thrown piece of rock are but failed attempts to stave off this unknown creature, whose shadow and form approach towering above Paolo and his companion. Will they survive?
(Del Ray, June 2020)
Sylvia Moreno Garcia
Reminiscent of Jane Eyre, Dracula, Rebecca, and The Mysteries of Udolpho, Garcia's novel unfolds in the Mexican countryside. Noemí Taboada--chic and headstrong debutante of Mexico City--rushes to High Place beckoned by a panicked letter from her cousin, who complains of "fleshless things" that won't leave her alone. Upon arriving Noemí is met with her cousin's menacing husband, his pro-eugenics patriarch father, and a host of other mysterious characters who pale against the house itself, slimy and fecund with rot, devoid of electricity. The horror spills into Noemí's dreams. Mexican Gothic explores race, class, memory, and agency, and the legacy that all of this leaves behind in humans as much as the space inhabited by them.
EET RONGER BARI
(Pallik Shourobh, 2020)
Jori has dreamed of entering the house made of red bricks many times. She walks alone through the forest, leaves crunching under her feet. "Just a little longer. Just a little longer," she coaxes herself, knowing that safety awaits inside the red brick house. A dog's cry pierces the silence around her. Just as she reaches the house, a giant black dog pounces at her, chasing her into the wood and towards the edge of a pond. Jori barely manages to avoid jumping in. But a green smoke rises billowing from the depths of the pond, reaching towards Jori, beginning to take shape. Suddenly, the cry of a baby rings through the air. The cry is coming from inside the house.
IF IT BLEEDS
(Scribner, April 2020)
If It Bleeds compiles four novellas, a form that King has iconicised over his genre-defining career. "Mr Harrigan's Phone" is a Gothic tale that takes on technology. "The Life of Chuck" connects three stories to tell one--the inverted biography of a cancer patient who grew up in a haunted house. "Rat" depicts a struggling writer isolated in a forest, where his idiosyncrasies eat away at his sanity. And the titular tale, "If It Bleeds", sequels The Outsider recently adapted for TV by HBO. Here, a private investigator at a middle school bomb attack noticed something suspicious about a reporter. The reporter is somehow always present at such disasters. Forensic technology is consulted to solve the mystery, which soon takes a sinister turn.
(Alor Thikana Prokashoni, 2020)
Habibul Islam Fahad
When Elora twists her ankle and trips into the dirt in front of her house, Fahad notices and sends his taxi away, offering to help her inside. He looks around as she washes herself clean, noticing strange paintings hung all over the walls--all painted in maroon, all depicting groups of people eating a man alive.
All the Bangla books are available on Rokomari.com. Follow us on fb.com/DailyStarBooks and @thedailystarbooks on Instagram. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org