14 September 2011

A Plain Tale from the Hills

Recently, a magazine I had never previously heard of asked me whether I would supply them with a piece of short fiction. The length requirement was pretty strict. I had nothing that short to offer, so I decided to try and write a story to their specification, something I have never previously done in the fiction line.

I had recently finished (for perhaps the third time) Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills, a masterly collection of short stories originally published in the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette, a newspaper at which he worked as a young man. Rather presumptuously, I decided to try writing a story of the same kind – a kind of student piece in the manner of Kipling, in which Nuwara Eliya, the Ceylonese equivalent of Simla, would provide the frame, just as Simla did for the original Plain Tales. I don’t know how well I succeeded, but the magazine, Himal Southasian, accepted the piece for publication. You can read it here, and I hope you will, though if you can find and buy a copy of the magazine and read it there, that would be even better.

The central conceit, by the way, is stolen from another famous master of the short story, Jorge Luis Borges. Can you identify the story in which it appears?


  1. it's well done,simon... hats off to you and a hip hip hurrah!

  2. Thanks, Kaf. You’re not very anonymous, are you?

  3. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

    Julie Christies half sister

    At the centre of Julie's private drama lies a key figure she is never known to have spoken of, never met, and, according to acquaintances, has gone to every effort to block out of her mind: her secret half-sister.

    The girl, called June, was the result of a relationship between Julie's father Frank St John Christie, the manager of a tea plantation in India, and one of his Indian tea-pickers.