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Happy Stories, Mostly

Book / Collection of Short Stories


Happy Stories, Mostly

by Norman Erikson Pasaribu
Translated by Tiffany Tsao

Format: Paperback, English
page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: /978-1-911284-63-5
Published Dec 01, 2021 by Tilted Axis Press

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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.


Other/Related Editions


Happy Stories, Mostly
English / 2022
Happy Stories, Mostly
English / 2023



Even when the stories are sad, as they often are, Pasaribu refuses to give readers a front-row seat to gay suffering.
Bryony Lau   in Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Portrait of Gay Indonesia (Nation, Dec 28, 2023)
I am going to have to re-read these short stories soon. Very soon!
Kristine Harper   in Here are (Five of) the Books that Made My Heart Sing in 2022 (Personal Blog, Feb 08, 2023)
Everyone is equal and deserves nothing but what suits them the best.
Sita   in Happy Stories, Mostly Kinda Review (Personal Blog, Dec 25, 2022)
For its playfulness, its ambition, and the way it builds its sorrow-bricks into stories that confront head-on challenging situations and emotions, this is a collection that deserves to be read and re-read.
Rosie Milne   in “Happy Stories, Mostly” by Norman Erikson Pasaribu (Asian Review of Books, Apr 29, 2022)
Not all young poets succeed in the switch to fiction, but Pasaribu’s short story collection Happy Stories, Mostly is even more beguiling.
Alexander Wells   in Happy Stories, Mostly: A beguiling new collection from Norman Erikson Pasaribu (EXBERLINER Magazine, Feb 17, 2022)
An interconnected web of beautiful stories with lyrical prose that strikes it’s own beat in narrative and sings it’s own tune of queer resilience.
Lia Yuliana   in So, in a world where we celebrate disneyfied heterosexualities, for queer folks, what is happiness? (Personal Blog, Jan 09, 2022)
All places, however, offer only temporary shelter, and all relationships are unreliable, doomed to change or expire. Possible endings are therefore open to further developments that can be better or worse than what we are currently experiencing. This being in flux seems to be a characteristic of humanity that opposes fixed social roles. The stories in the collection trace this journey deftly and with expertise.
Carla Scarano D’Antonio   in Happy Stories, Mostly (Litro Magazine, Jan 07, 2022)


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