The Rebel Christian

Book Reviews

Empty Fists

By Mangalam Shiva

Empty Fists is an anthology. A collection of short stories reflecting on the different aspects of life faced by every individual. There is love, friendship, struggle, even loss. This is a collection of stories that will truly touch your heart from beginning to end.

The first story is very unique, it’s one of the best of the collection because of its narration. This story is actually told through the eyes of a dog. Honestly, it is one of the most sincere and kindest tales I’ve ever read. We follow a ‘street’ dog’s journey as he pursues justice on behalf of the many humans he encounters. The audience witnesses life through the eyes of an animal—a very unique experience. Shiva does a great job at working out the dog’s voice. His use of vocabulary and description is genuine and detailed enough to give us a good view of life on four legs.

One of the best parts of Siva’s writing is his ability to convey emotion through each of his characters. Even though there’s a mix of male, female, or even animal, I still felt something tug at my heart with every story. A different message was conveyed in each tale but it wasn’t hard to find them and to learn from them. Shiva paints a very plain and clear picture of what he wants to say and he does it in such a way that readers of all ages can enjoy his work.

One of the stories in Empty Fists is told from the point of view of a male who has actually died already. That’s one of the most dynamic things about Shiva’s writing, he truly thinks outside the box when he tells each story. This character is not a ghost, he isn’t supernaturally speaking to us, he is actually dead and he’s reflecting on his life. Being stuck in his head was a very emotional ride for me. I was faced with many different philosophical questions and metaphors that brought out the true meaning of the story.

With lines like, “I arrived in this world with clenched fists and I leave with empty fists.” You can really see how much heart was put into this piece. Every line has a meaning, each greater than the last. Every story challenges you to see things from more than one point of view and to reflect on your life in comparison to the lives of all the characters.

Being part of the story is something I really enjoyed from this book. I wouldn’t say that I was an ‘active’ reader, but I was definitely engaged and emotionally involved. Shiva’s writing captivated me with its honest detail and its heartwarming characters. There was much sadness in this anthology but amidst that sorrow were many smiles. Many little moments of happiness came from the characters and happiness invoked from the outcomes of the stories.

Probably the best part of Empty Fists was that it’s about minority characters. I got to see parts of a unique culture not seen so often in American fiction. It was refreshing to hear from a voice that didn’t come from someone with beautiful blonde hair and sky blue eyes. I’m a sucker for minority characters so this was an instant plus for me.

This book is a must-read for audiences of all ages. It’s full of warmth and meaning that can be interpreted in many different ways. Each reader will find their own favorite parts and their own memorable moments within the lines of this wonderfully written piece. Not only is it well-written but it’s also well-edited. I don’t think I found single mistake while I read which made it all the more enjoyable. You will love this book right from the start.

*I received a free copy of Empty Fists in exchange for an honest review*