In this eloquent collection of stories twelve different people from different walks of life discover how one chance meeting with a stranger can change a person forever. Madhu B. Wangu draws from her own Indian-American heritage and examines the lives of ordinary people facing challenging circumstances—cruelty, prejudiced minds, twisted family relationships, unhappy marriages—and demonstrates how these situations transcend ethnicity and background as interactions with strangers force each character to look deep within themselves, often acknowledging painful truths and long-held secrets, in order to seize control of their own destinies and forge their own paths to independence and happiness.
Madhu Bazaz Wangu poignantly weaves a universal message that ties the characters in these stories together, one that applies to anyone who has experienced poverty, jealousy, fear, prejudice, disillusionment, and above all, the feeling of being a foreigner, even within one’s own family.
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"Beautiful, lush, lyrical stories and rhythmic language transports and transforms--each story is an unforgettable journey." - Kathleen Shoop, IPPY Award-Winning Author of The Last Letter and After the Fog
"A skilled practitioner, Madhu B. Wangu, writes from the marrow of her bones. In her collection, she conjures dream-like motifs of goodness, guidance, and the human condition. Her writing, infused with echoes of Hindu and Buddhist myths, is deeply satisfying and transformative." - Gwyn Cready, RITA Award Winning Author
"Chance Meetings is an evocative and thought-provoking collection: A delicious blending of cultures, delicately rendered and rich with sensory detail." Meredith Mileti, Author of Aftertaste
Secret Healer: One small town boy’s journey from the innocence of childhood to the injustices of servitude before finding shelter with an old man.
Cadmium and Crimson: Two sculptors, one goal—to make masterpieces in three dimensions. The older dedicates his life to art and his younger contemporary to success. Where do their intentions lead them?
Blackened Mirror: A successful artist discovers his authentic self.
A Chance Meeting: A young man treats a total stranger the way he wants to be treated without expecting anything in return to amazing effect.
Yellow Jacket: The protagonist is unable to resolve the guilt caused by the jealousy toward his younger brother as a result of his sudden death.
The Thug: In an intense, frightful hour, a woman realizes the folly of gossip.
A Precious Gift: After her son’s death, a distraught woman learns from her old mother how to cope with loss.
An American Dialogue: A synchronic event changes a prejudiced woman’s beliefs about a man from a religion other than her own.
Darkness Behind Eyes: At the age of seventy-two, the deep driving desire of a woman who has wanted to learn to read since her teen years helps her achieve her goal.
Gauri’s Freedom: An arranged marriage dramatically alters a young woman’s plans for her life until she meets another woman by chance who inspires her to take her life into her own hands through determination and self-sufficiency.
Cycle of Life: A young, idealistic woman learns why and how life goes on despite suffering, anguish and physical pain.
Portable Shrine: A writer discovers she is capable of more than she thought through the life lessons learned by the characters in her novel.
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Chance Meetings is not the usual type of book I read but it seemed interesting so I decided to give this book a chance. The first two stories Cycle of Life and Cadmium and Crimson were okay but I still wasn't convinced I would like the book. Since they're short stories I kept reading anyways and I'm glad I did because I loved Gauri's Freedom, An American Dialogue, and The Thug. These stories show how someone you meet can change your life or the way you think. I did enjoy reading these stories and thought most of them were sweet even though Secret Healer wasn't such a nice story until the end and almost made me cry. Overall I give this book 4 stars.
A Historian of Asian Religions and Indian Art, Madhu B. Wangu taught Hindu and Buddhist art at Wheaton College, Wellesley, University of Rhode Island and University of Pittsburgh. She has published four non-fiction books and numerous essays in scholarly anthologies. “Chance Meetings” is her debut story collection.
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