Love Songs for a Lost Continent...is a marvel of nuance, each and every story complicating the narrative it sets out to explore. It provides no easy answers—and thank goodness for that. Love Songs for a Lost Continent explores many kinds of stories—about love, escape, independence—but at its core, it tackles the difficulty of living in the in-between, in the interstices of identities, and the often deeply flawed way human beings deal with this liminality and confusion ... Felicelli has that rare and wonderful quality as a writer: she doesn’t require each story to end neatly, letting the lingering frustration and injustice remain in a reader’s mind, just as they would outside the bounds of fiction ... Felicelli’s ability to try to empathize with the villains of one story by making them the protagonists of another is another testament to her nuanced writing. By attempting to get at the heart of painful spaces, by exploring the complex realities of her characters, and by refusing to let any of them emerge from a history-less vacuum, Felicelli seems to be asking us to pause, to consider, to try to understand those around us. Her stories ask us to recognize that marginalization and privilege are so often dependent on space and context, and that no one is easily categorizable as good or evil. Instead, we are all human, flawed in different ways, dependent on others to understand ourselves.
Its most magical moments...could’ve felt like false attempts at metaphor over meaning, but Felicelli plays them confidently ... What Felicelli can conceive of is impressive ... The strongest story in the collection is perhaps the one that attempts the least ... There is a kind of magic in everyday life, after all. Love Songs for a Lost Continent gathers work that doesn’t quite cohere as a book; the effect is more mixtape than album.
'How easily the fictions that a closed circle of people told each other could grow wings, take flight as if they were the truth' ... This logic penetrates the collection; paradigms topple and shift like dominoes as protagonists careen from displacement toward personal truth, each hoping they might find their way. The results are transcendentally messy, the characters’ trouble electric ... Love Songs for a Lost Continent revels in the murky in-between spaces where the monstrous intersects with the benign and something essential is revealed. Across the collection, love and pain, displacement and connection, personal identity and culture are reconfigured until even the most prosaic home becomes lethally wistful.
The very consciously organized stories in Love Songs for a Lost Continent explore a range of themes from identity and sexuality, to motherhood and self-love—all written with a singularity that both unites the stories as a whole in their inherent longing, but which also gives them the space to be solo love songs ... Overall, the stories do feel heavy and dense—as if taking a tedious journey through the thick forest—frequently because of their Indianness and especially if you are a non-Indian reading it. But after reaching beyond the subtleness of caste tensions, Indian folklore, and non-defined Tamil words, it is the tightness of details, language, and concepts, combined with ordinary characters, that makes the collection a sublime read. And a great book with which to begin exploring the Tamil diaspora.
In Felicelli’s...short story collection, Tamil-Americans struggle to find themselves in a world that persistently marginalizes them ... characters in these poignant stories deal with questions of identity ... Felicelli typically steeps her tales in metaphors, resulting in audacious approaches to such issues as racism and sexism ... stories take dark turns, including deaths of loved ones and fractured relationships. The brightness of Felicelli’s prose, however, provides a beautiful contrast ... Somber but undeniably affecting and profound tales.