The Sherpa and Other Fictions.


176 pages
ISBN 978-1-894549-70-7
DDC C813'.6






Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is a ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster, B.C.


Every short story in this collection by Nila Gupta is a wonder of complexity embraced by a simple story. The complexities come out in the relationships and the underlying cultural references and situations, and the bare bones of the storylines themselves belie those layered themes. Many of the stories are of return, whether it is a young woman returning to the Kashmir for the first time since she was a toddler, in the title story “The Sherpa,” or a young gay academic returning to India for his mother’s funeral in “The Boy He Left Behind.”


The characters in Gupta’s stories undergo quiet mental and emotional changes, often expressed in the things left unsaid or the elements left unexplained. Many of these subtly nuanced tales take place in the Kashmir, which we observe through the eyes of a sari shop owner in Jammu, a woman visiting a refugee camp, and the British wife of an Indian man visiting his homeland. Some of the stories in this collection stand out from even their skilled neighbours: “High Regards,” a poignant story of army corruption, and “The Tin Bus” a tale of a young girl travelling by bus on a Himalayan road during the monsoons, are two in particular.


Gupta’s background in writing short films and plays shows in the writing of these short stories—where a few spare words paint clear images of the scenes. The tale entitled “The Mouser” presents an example: “The mice were brown and chased their own tails in the shadow cast by a burlap bag of rice.” Altogether, this collection is an enjoyable and multi-layered read, and perfect for fans of cross-cultural writing.


Gupta, Nila., “The Sherpa and Other Fictions.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,