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May 21, 2024

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May 16, 2024

Happy Stories, Mostly

Book / Collection of Short Stories


Happy Stories, Mostly

by Norman Erikson Pasaribu
Translated by Tiffany Tsao

Format: Paperback, English
168 page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: 1952177057/9781952177057
Published Jun 06, 2023 by Feminist Press

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The first book of fiction by young queer Indonesian writer Norman Erikson Pasaribu, author of the acclaimed poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus.

Happy Stories, Mostly is a playful, charged and tender collection of twelve stories – a blend of speculative fiction and dark absurdism, often drawing on Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Batak and Christian cultures. Pasaribu’s stories ask what it means to be almost happy – almost to find joy, almost to be accepted, but never quite grasp one’s desire. Joy and contentment shimmer on the horizon, just out of reach.

In one story, an employee is introduced to their new workplace – a department of Heaven devoted to archiving unanswered prayers. In another, a woman on holiday in Vietnam attempts to find solace following the suicide of her son. In a third, a young man befriends a university classmate obsessed with verifying the existence of a mythical hundred-foot-tall man.

Throughout the collection, queerness is a fact of life from which tragicomic events spring, amidst the forces that keep people from those whom they yearn for most, and the miraculous, melancholy ability to survive such loneliness. In the words of one of the stories’ narrators, ‘I work in the dark. Like mushrooms. I don’t need light to thrive.’


Other/Related Editions


Happy Stories, Mostly
English / 2021
Happy Stories, Mostly
English / 2022



This is a collection which will lead others to change the way they think, and perhaps, encourage others to live in a happier, kinder world.
Joanna Acevedo   in Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Happy Stories Mostly Anthology Reviewed (Foglifter, Jun 27, 2023)
Religion is one of the collection’s recurring themes, but explorations of the subject are far from straightforward, imbued with the author’s sense of humor and an appropriate dose of cynicism.
Nina Palattella   in Queer Joy Is Complicated in This Story Collection (Kirkus Reviews, Jun 26, 2023)
In telling this story, Pasaribu explores questions of faith, desire, and memory; the result is an immersive story that makes the impossible feel true.
Tobias Carroll   in The Watchlist: June 2023 (Words Without Borders, Jun 22, 2023)
Happy Stories, Mostly is less a plea than a platform displaying the need for openness and peace in place of rigid judgment founded upon long-held conventions and religious values.
Gaby Rusli   in Always Almost, Never Quite (Asia Media, May 08, 2023)
The stories and the thoughtful conversation between the author and translator included in the book have me longing for more from this pair.
Pierce Alquist   in 10 of The Best New Books in Translation Out Spring 2023 (Book Riot, Apr 27, 2023)
A beautiful collection that refuses to shy away from the often complex and difficult queer experience.
— in Happy Stories, Mostly (Kirkus Reviews, Apr 25, 2023)
This is sure to get people talking.
— in Happy Stories, Mostly (Publishers Weekly, Apr 06, 2023)


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