Happy Stories, Mostly - Reading Guide
Use this guide to understand why Happy Stories, Mostly, puts queer characters front and centre, and why the author wants to connect with his readers through translation.
Powerful blend of science fiction, absurdism and alternative-historical realism that aims to destabilise the heteronormative world and expose its underlying rot. Translated by Tiffany Tsao.
Inspired by Simone Weil’s concept of ‘decreation’ and drawing on Batak and Christian cultural elements, in Happy Stories, Mostly Pasaribu puts queer characters in situations and plots conventionally filled by hetero characters.
In one story, a staff member is introduced to their new workplace - a department of Heaven devoted to archiving unanswered prayers. In another, a woman’s attempt to vacation in Vietnam after her gay son commits suicide turns into a nightmarish failed escape. And in a speculative-historical third, a young man finds himself haunted by the tale of a giant living in colonial-era Sumatra.
About the AuthorA writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, Norman Pasaribu was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1990.
The bittersweet stories of Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Happy Stories, Mostly – in a translation by Tiffany Tsao that shimmers and soars – range from the heart-wrenching to the absurd, creating a vibrant mosaic of contemporary Indonesia.— The 2022 International Booker Prize judges