The present selection is an attempt to represent the wide range and variety of Mulk Raj Anands short stories. The first group represents the stories of lyric awareness. As in all poetry, the themes are elemental, such as birth and death, beauty, love and childhood, and the treatment often reveals a symbolic dimension added to realistic presentation.
The prevailing mood of the second group of stories in this selection is of the tears at the heart of things. These stories are naturally allied to the brief tales of lyric awareness but with a difference. Through his acute understanding of the complex social forces at work, Anand describes an India where tradition clashes with modernity.
The range and variety of Anands short stories are not only in mood, tone and spirit but also in locale, characters and form. The setting ranges from the Punjab (as in The Parrot in the Cage) to Uttar Pradesh (as in The Price of Bananas) and Kashmir (as in Kashmir Idyll). Both the village and the city get almost equal representation. Mulk Raj Anands stories are a museum of human nature. Among the Indian writers of the short story in English, he has few peers.