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Norman E. Pasaribu: Happy Stories, Mostly


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Winner of the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize

Longlisted for the 2022 Booker International Prize

“A ‘bittersweet symphony’ if there ever was one, Happy Stories, Mostly is a choral collection around a resonant heart, as across different stories and settings, characters misunderstand, misapprehend and plain just miss the gay men who are their friends, family, colleagues, lovers, and even worshippers. Faith runs throughout in melodic variations, sometimes discordant but always palpable, as Pasaribu’s stories are always attuned to listening and listeners. “Come on. Is there such a thing? Really? Really? A prayer that must be answered?” Maybe not, but – supported by Tiffany Tsao’s dynamic, pacy translation – these are stories that must be heard.” – So Mayer, Author of “Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema”

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Synopsis: Playful, shape-shifting and emotionally charged, Happy Stories, Mostly is a collection of twelve stories that queer the norm. Inspired by Simone Weil’s concept of ‘decreation’, and often drawing on Batak and Christian cultural elements, these tales put queer characters in situations and plots conventionally filled by hetero characters.

The stories talk to each other, echo phrases and themes, and even shards of stories within other stories, passing between airports, stacks of men’s lifestyle magazines and memories of Toy Story 3, such that each one almost feels like a puzzle piece of a larger whole, but with crucial facts – the saddest ones, the happiest ones – omitted, forgotten, unbearable.

A blend of science fiction, absurdism and alternative-historical realism, Happy Stories, Mostly is a powerful puff of fresh air, aimed at destabilising the heteronormative world and exposing its underlying absences. (Text from Tilted Axis)

Author: Norman E. Pasaribu (trans. by Tiffany Tsao)
Title: Happy Stories, Mostly
Publisher: Tilted Axis Press
ISBN: 9781911284635
Original Publication Date: 2021
This Edition Published: 2021
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 161


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