Cover Image: One Arm Shorter Than The Other

One Arm Shorter Than The Other

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Member Reviews

What I liked about the book is the unfettered imagination weaved into a magical multidimensional fabric. Gigi's plot is well thought-through, her writing is confident and her characters most interesting.

The book combines the paranormal with sensitively observed studies of the human psyche.Without getting into the exercise of trying to define the book's genre, it would be safe to say that One Arm Shorter Than The Other is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
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One Arm Shorter Than The Other is an incredibly woven short story collection, told in two parts, cantering around a seemingly magical electronic repair store.
Tge stories individually were captivating. they had this hopeful yet sad tone to them and the balance of that was perfection. 
I love how the stories came together.
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I read one review of this novella and though I didn’t completely understand what it was gonna be about, I just wanted to give it a try. And wow this turned to out to be something. 

I thought this was a unique blend of fantasy, sci-fi and mystery along with some historical elements and I was amazed at how well the author seamlessly transitioned across them all. And within these genres, what we find is a story about humanity, connections, grief and the human tendency of wanting to become immortal. The book itself is like in two parts - the first half is a collection of short stories each having one character in common, and the second half is about us getting to know more about how this singular character came to be. It’s a unique style of storytelling, the writing is very heartfelt and emotional, and each of the characters feel real and we can totally empathize with their grief and loneliness. 

I’m always trying to find SFF books written by Indian authors (not the diaspora whose books I do read a lot), so it just makes me so happy that I accidentally found out about this speculative fiction debut. I can only hope that this beautifully written novella can lead to many more such stories in the Indian publishing scene, and we get a well established SFF genre in India soon.
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A book of two halves for me, I LOVED the first half.  I thought it was a bit sweet and a bit creepy and it reminded me of Needless Things by Stephen King.  

The second half was an entirely different vibe that I struggled to understand. 

The whole book was really well written and well put together, the juxtaposition of the two halves just didn't work for me.
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This was such a great read! A little bit sci-fi, a little bit fabulism, and a whole lot of emotions to wreck you. This isn't a typical novella. The first three chapters will feel like standalone short stories connected by one element, a mysterious repair shop in the old Delhi, where an octogenarian man fixes anything and everything that needs mending. Aided by his granddaughter, he runs the shop that helps you in anything, from fixing your projector to your TV to your radio, even your vase. The enigmatic octogenarian and his never-aging repair shop has tons of mysteries that slowly unfolds the more you read. At the end, you'll find all the threads connected and tied in a pretty knot. Ofc, given how dumb I am and how fried my brain is, the last two chapters including the epilogue took me a bit of time to understand. Otherwise, it was a fantastic read. I especially loved the stories of Maurice and Inaya, tender stories about lonely people who seek love.

Thank you, NetGalley and Atthis Arts, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Gigi Ganguly’s indie debut novella One Arm Shorter Than The Other may be the most off-the-beaten-track book I’ve read in years—at least if you adjust for the fact that I judge a self-published sci-fi competition and have pretty well beaten the self-published track. But I had a friend get an ARC and bring it to my attention as a novella with an unusual structure. And while I may not have as much patience for novel-length experiments, I’m always up for trying short works with unusual structures. So I thought I’d give it a go. 

The structure of One Arm Shorter Than The Other is a cousin of the “several short stories in a frame narrative,” but it’s not quite the same. The prologue is sparse and cryptic, and apart from introducing the Delhi repair shop that would play a role in the three following short stories, doesn’t do much in the way of framing. But the second half of the novella features a novelette that recalls the prologue and provides an origin story for the shop and its proprietor, an aging Delhi man with one arm shorter than the other. 

Though they ultimately get more background in the novelette that closes the story, the three short stories in the first half work perfectly well as standalone pieces of magical realism. Three people—a grandfather mourning lost loved ones, an actor struggling to find work that he does not consider beneath him, and a recently retired schoolteacher with a weakness for novels—bring broken pieces of electronics to the shop for repair, and three people return with devices that are something more than they bargained for. Each story is engaging and deeply human, with the unexplained magic serving only to sharpen the focus on personal longing at their core. Fans of character-driven short fiction will have plenty to love, with all three prioritizing character over plot or premise, and the first even drifting near slice-of-life territory. 

The explanation that comes in the form of the closing novelette is unnecessary for enjoyment of the opening three tales, and I actually may prefer them left unexplained. Which is not to say that the final novelette is a poor piece—it continues the character focus, exploring questions of identity and legacy while providing backstory to the repair shop visited in its three predecessors. But it does dilute some of the character work in trying to provide intricacy to the plot, and I’m not convinced the gains were worth the cost. Of course, other readers prefer every detail tied neatly together and may find exactly what they wanted in the closing novelette. But I find there are times when it’s better to let mystery linger than to pull back the curtain to reveal anything short of stunning. 

Ultimately, though I didn’t end up loving the structure, the storytelling and character work were still enough to recommend One Arm Shorter Than The Other. Fans of magical realism and character-driven short fiction have plenty of reason to read, and those who seek explanation have the payoff they’re looking for. 

Recommended if you like: magical realism, slice-of-life, character-driven short fiction. 

Overall rating: 15 of Tar Vol’s 20. Four stars on Goodreads.
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Thank you Atthis Arts and NetGalley for this e-ARC!

If you love sci-fi and speculative fiction, you should read this book! It doesn't have many pages, and it's easy to understand. You'll enjoy this book!

I have zero expectation when i first read this book. But now i'm crazy about this smart and unique story.

It's about a man from the repair shop in Delhi who have one arm shorther than the other. The book consists three short stories about three people in different years who came to his store to repair something and a novellet that sets in the future and make the three stories prior connected in a big story.

Not only fixed the broken things, the man was also make it into magical things. There're a film projector which can make people go to their past, a TV which suck in the person watching it, and a radio which can connect two people from differen decades (present & future).

As for the novellet, the story is set in 7200s. The story will then flow and it will start to show where it is going. I love the concepts about time travel and time loop it created. And when i read the novellet part i finally knew why this book is entitled One Arm Shorther Than The Other and it's GENIUS!!

I honestly feel like the ending is a bit rushed and lacking of something i can't grasp my mind into.. but other than the ending i have no complain about this book at all. The story is good, the plot is good, the writing is neat & beautiful. Looking forward to read other Gigi Ganguly's works :)
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This book starts as a simple story collection, but before you notice, it grows into a mind-blowing trip across time.

Gigi Ganguly's debut novella, One Arm Shorter than the Other, is a marvelous surprise. For half of its length, it holds its cards close to its chest, before sweeping you off your feet with a royal flush of high concepts and intricate plotting.

The first half is composed of a series of sweet vignettes around a kindly repairman who does wonders from his unassuming little shop in Delhi's old district. These three stories start simple enough, but gradually turn more and more surreal. In Some Things (Like Upholstery) Remain Unchanged, a widower bonds with his grandchildren by having his old film projector transformed into a window to the past. In Be Careful with the TV Settings, an embittered actor with a fading career discovers that his newly fixed TV can place him in any story he chooses... so he must take care not to choose wrong. In Turn Up the Radio (Only) When It Rains, a lonely old woman receives a radio as a gift, and with it, a new friend, and a new future.

Film, television, radio: these are stories about media and interactivity, about the act of watching and the magic of human connection. Little clues reveal that these stories share the same continuity, and if the book stopped at them, this would be in itself a valuable collection.

But then comes the second half of the book, and the panorama expands to cosmic proportions. We jump to the 71st century, a time when cities have layers upon layers, but people can fold their houses into flat rectangles and carry them around. We meet Samay, the architect behind this revolution in portability, and it turns out he's in need of repair services. Fortunately, his civilization has mastered time travel, so he pays a visit to old Delhi... and meets our trusty old repairman.

By the way, Samay is Hindi for time. I can't spoil anything more. I can't in the sense that I'm not capable, because the various moving parts in this meticulous clockwork of a plot exceed my ability to reduce them to any description, and I can't in the sense that it wouldn't be right, because the delight of this story lies in experiencing its mysteries firsthand.

What I can say is that this is one of the most elegant time loop puzzles I've ever read, as well as a thought-provoking allegory about the passing of time over physical space, over the human body, and over our material possessions.

I already spoke about the role of media in the early sections of the book. We all know there's something of time travel in our access to recorded content. But this book further suggests that there's something of time travel in the act of repairing. To repair is to take the old and make it feel not old, to try to bestow a semblance of newness onto it. To repair is to try to work against time. But rebuilding is also a form of repairing, in the sense that working along with time and building over what has crumbled down can make the old fully new again. This is not only a book where old objects can acquire new forms, but also where an old city can remake itself by pushing a button, and where old people can migrate into new bodies.

You can experience that contradiction in the real Delhi, a cosmopolitan megalopolis where the future coexists with antiquity, where the many cities this city has been are overwritten on each other in that special way that landscape historians call urban palimpsest. In Delhi, an ordinary walk across neighborhoods is indeed time travel.

So Delhi's relationship with time is central to One Arm Shorter than the Other (a title that not only describes our protagonist, but is also a sneak reference to clocks). The text namedrops, for example, Jantar Mantar, one of the most notable landmarks in the city. It is an astronomical complex built three centuries ago whose function was to keep track of the movements of stars. Basically, it was a clock.

There used to be another clock in Delhi: the Ghantaghar tower, which was built during the British occupation and accidentally collapsed after independence. The fall of this tower, a symbolic break with the past coinciding with the birth of modern India, is a key event in the book, the inciting incident that ripples across time and closes the loop that links old and new Delhi.

The older clock still stands, while the newer clock is no more. Such is the nature of cause and consequence in the city that is old and new at the same time. Such is the nonduality of a culture with a cyclical concept of time, where the same word means "yesterday" and "tomorrow." Such is the rich ambiguity at the heart of this exceptional book. One Arm Shorter than the Other will wind up your mind and set it running. It is a very brief read, but it contains eons.


The Math

Baseline Assessment: 8/10.

Bonuses: +1 for forging a solid thematic link between the aging and rebuilding of objects, the aging and rebuilding of place, and the aging and rebuilding of human life; +1 for achieving a tangible, almost physical sense of location. I myself have only ever spent one week in Delhi, and the descriptions in this book took me right back.

Penalties: −1 because the tying up of the time loop at the end of the book requires some railroading that constrains the characters' choices. This is always the tricky part about writing time loop stories, and its final execution here tends a bit toward the just-so. To be fair, the repairman has tight logical reasons to suddenly withhold information in the way he does, but Samay's growing frustration is the side the reader ends up identifying with.
Nerd Coefficient: 9/10.
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This book is unusual in a lot of ways, but definitely memorable. 

I really enjoyed the settings involved, but my attention didn't really pick up until the twist hit. After that, I was much more invested in finishing, and I greatly enjoyed it!
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This is a sweet, gentle novella with a fun, clever, charming twist at the end. I might even describe it as cozy.

I found it rather slow reading, possibly due to the multiple POVs, hence the three-star review. But I would recommend this to someone interested in quiet, sweet science fiction with a fantasy feel.

I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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One Arm Shorter than the Other by Gigi Ganguly

One Arm Shorter than the Other is a debut novella by Indian author Gigi Ganguly, being published by a small press here in America in April.  It's a novella in two parts, with the first part featuring a series of short stories all connected by a single theme - a repair shop in Delhi whose workings result in magic - and a second part featuring a longer story that explains the origins of what came to pass in those stories.  

It's a really well done novella, an interesting tale with ideas of love, loss, and eternity throughout, that shifts from fantasy in the beginning to a more clearly sci-fi touch in its final acts.  It's not the type of work that'll blow you away, but it's effective and worth your time for a different touch to a novella.  



Quick Plot Summary:  In three different decades, three different individuals search Delhi and find a simple repair shop, which contains within a number of odd items.  There each of the three has repaired a specific item - a projector; a television; or a radio - and finds the item returned to be far more than they imagined, responding to their needs and wants in a way they never could have hoped for.  

Several Thousand Years later, a 23 year old breaks a vase......

Thoughts:  There really isn't any way to describe the plot of One Arm Shorter than the Other without spoiling what happens, even if it's not a story that's really relies too much on surprise.  In the first act, each of the three protagonists, each of whom has had a sense of loss - for one, grief of a lost loved one, for another, loss of what he feels should have been a rightful career, for the last, a loss of having someone to keep her company - brings something to the repair shop and receives something in return that goes right to that feeling of loss.  That said, how it does so is very different each time, and what each protagonist get is something they deserve....and in one case that isn't something necessarily very nice (and is kind of horrifying anyhow).  

And then there's the second act, which is a longer novelette-size story dealing with love and longevity (and loss again).  The less I say about it the better, but it works as a nice complement and capper to the original three stories, both explaining them and dealing with similar themes at the same time.  

None of this is really spectacular or super pulling on your heartstrings - the novella doesn't really last long enough for that.  But it's well done and interesting and thus worth your time if you're interested in seeing a SF/F novella from a different perspective, dealing with these themes of loss, grief, longevity and what comes next.
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One Arm Shorter Than The Other is a two-part Science-Fiction/Fantasy novella with a feel-good factor. I would class this as speculative fiction as the author weaves elegant short stories into a unified conclusion. As we eventually find out, everything is interconnected.
This being a novella is a fairly short read, so it does not take long to get through. But I feel it will be one of those books that I will read again just for the sheer delight of knowing it has a cheerful feel surrounding it.
The writing is top-notch and has a poetic lilt without it being overly bogged down with heavily laden dialogue. 
The characters are okay, and there are some fascinating ones. But it is the stories, not the individuals themselves, which make One Arm Shorter Than The Other actually work.
As someone who loves tinkering and fixing things, I loved the idea of an old fashioned shop that goes out of its way to help people by mending old appliances. Even as in this case, it was in a surprisingly special way. It just brought a warm glow to my heart.
One Arm Shorter Than The Other is a truly unique and spellbinding novella that will catch your attention and not let go. Beautifully written, with a story with a great premise and which I believe is a stunning achievement. 
This is an exceptional book, and I definitely recommend that you give it a read.
Thank you, NetGalley and Atthis Arts, for the ARC.
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2022 seems to be the year of the unexpected time travel story and I'm into it. This is such a rich and lovely novella, with a real warmth to it. Each character's story in the first half unfolded with elegant economy but felt fleshed out and real. The second half, and the reveal of the one arm shorter than the other was delightful, charming and high concept in equal measure.
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I really enjoyed this novella - I loved her writing style and there were sentences I just wanted to gobble up!
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First book of the year and this was just amazing!

I’ve only recently started to read Desi Sci-Fi and Speculative Fiction and this is one of the best plot twist but complete short stories novel I’ve read.

From the setting in Delhi to the plot twists of each item and how they affect the owner after repair to the final story connecting them all, I highly recommend you read this.
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I had a great time with this 2 part novella that weaves its way through time and space. It was the perfect book to disappear into for a couple of hours. Fans of speculative fiction and SFF will enjoy this one!

Thank You to Netgalley for the ARC!
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Dadaji's, in Dheli, is the classic repair shop of the past, a cross between a curiosity store and an antique shop. Dadaji himself is a very strange person: he has one arm shorter than the other. Whoever takes his objects to be repaired at Dadaji's receives an unexpected gift: besides functioning, the object seems to respond to a hidden wish of its owner. Thus the old grandfather who has his projector repaired in order to watch films from the past seems to be able to enter the past itself; the decayed film star finds a strange form of immortality and the retired teacher, a lover of books, through a radio comes into contact with the one who will help her found an immortal library.
Up to here the novel is poetic, but not particularly weird, then things start to get complicated, because the story begins to go back and forth in time ...
A really brilliant and very, very Indian debut novel.
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I wasn’t expecting One arm shorter than the other to be this brilliant! This speculative fiction book is a two part novella that reads like a short story collection with one common character—the person with one arm shorter than the other. People come see him to repair their old electronics. Is he a magician? An alien? Does he transport people in time? Space? I kept guessing and speculating on the events!! This is a wonderful mind-bending debut. The storyline set in historical India made me nostalgic for the street food!! 

Thank you Atthis Art via Netgalley for the arc.
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🤚 In this two-part novella, the author explores the themes of nostalgia, technology and time travel. But she does it in a way different to what other futuristic shows have depicted. This is not Black Mirror: it won’t keep you up at night, wondering how on earth we are going to stop technology from overtaking our lives. Instead, it is optimistic, and its characters are generally good people. 

🤚 The first part of the novella is basically four short stories in which the characters all need to repair a tech device. In one of them, the protagonist is a teacher who loves buying second hand books, even though her home is filled with stacks and stacks of them. I am sure we can all relate.

🤚 I also enjoyed how the author seamlessly talked about the setting (borough called Chandni Chowk, in New Delhi), without feeling the need to tell the reader that the story took place in India. This also happens with a character’s disability, which is noted but is not hindering. 

🤚 Recommended to: readers who want to believe in a positive future, fans os science fiction and speculative fiction, and lovers of old technology. Thanks to @netgalley and Atthis Arts for this Advanced Reader’s Copy.

❌ Does not pass the Bechdel test.
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Relatable characters, colourful descriptions and just a touch of mystery is what makes this book a success. 
It opens with what looks like a collection of short stories having one character in common. Then, as you keep on reading, you figure out everything's linked. This was an interesting short read featuring historical and contemporary India, where mystery, fantasy and sci-fi collides. Mind-bending!
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