For those new to Chekhov: Reading the stories in order is a wonderful experience; however, I recommend beginning with a few humorous stories, such as "Oh! the Public!" (39), "The Orator" (92), and "A Transgression" (124). Next try one of Chekhov's most moving stories, "Misery" (45). Among the longer stories, I suggest beginning with "Ward No. 6" (166), "The Duel" (160), and "The Steppe" (148), which contains the most famous thunderstorm in literature. Finally, be sure to read the famous trilogy made of "The Man in a Case" (189), "Gooseberries" (190), and "About Love" (191).
Sharma composed about half the stories from A Life of Adventure and Delight in the 1990s, still darkened by Anup’s condition and by his fear—triggered partly by the cost of his brother’s medical care—of not having money. He spent his early life repressing what he really wanted, and attended Harvard Law School, he says, only as a means to earn a living: “I just wanted to be able to read a menu left to right instead of right to left—meaning, not starting with the prices. I had no loyalty to law school.” He never actually practiced law, realizing that he could make more as a banker than as a corporate lawyer who defends them, and instead worked at an investment bank while he finished An Obedient Father . He’s categorical about his time there: “I just didn’t care. I would look away from the Excel spreadsheets and all the numbers would vanish from my head because it just did not matter at all to me. It requires double the effort if you don’t care.” His frank way of speaking mirrors a certain quality of his prose: deceptively clear, so that his world’s absurdity shows through.