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Kamalini Natesan’s The Fire Ant’s Sting: Desire Diaries is a collection of twelve stories that examine the different forms of desire. The author builds these tales around the premise that desire is a primal human emotion, and its pursuit prompts people to act irrationally. The spectrum of desire is skillfully showcased; be it the desire to live vicariously, the yearning for home, the craving for quietude or the ardent wish to be seen and heard.

Every tale is complexly woven and nuanced. The reader becomes one with the narrator and experiences intense feelings- be it love, hatred, or grief. The author focuses on themes like loneliness in relationships, body positivity, self-love, recognition, redemption, and closure. Each story is a deep dive into the human psyche- why do you act in a certain way, and what lengths would you go, to satiate your desire? The characters are vividly etched; you hear their voice ever so clearly. They are flawed in many ways, but that’s what makes them relatable and endearing. 

The language flows beautifully, almost like poetry. The book is a visual delight, and the description of the surroundings is authentic. The opening quotes from eminent personalities are apt and inspiring and set the tone for the narrative.

My favorite stories in this collection include Checkmate, Fame by Chance, and Fractured. 

Checkmate is about the desire for revenge. What stood out was the self-actualization of the protagonist. He harbors so much pain and anger, but in one moment he understands the futility of his purpose, thereby completing his character arc evolution and rendering a sense of closure.

Fame by chance is about the desire for recognition, to be someone special, and to make it big. The writer’s frustrations are relatable, and one can empathize with him. The story lands a strong message: shortcuts to success never work, and never let go of the people who stand by you.

Fractured is the desire for food. It is a positive and uplifting tale about starting over, second chances, and self-love. The protagonist starts from rock bottom and moves upward. It doesn’t happen overnight; it is slow and steady.

This book is a bold and no-holds-barred read that immerses the reader in its exquisite journey of myriad emotions. Some of these stories haunt you long after you have read them.

I received this book in a Penmancy Penkonnect interaction session with author Kamalini Natesan.


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