One great short story to read today: Rajesh Parameswaran’s “The Infamous Bengal Ming”


May 30, 2024, 10:30am

According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, for the second year in a row, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free* to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:

“The Infamous Bengal Ming” by Rajesh Parameswaran

All right, technically you cannot read this story online right now unless you have a subscription to Granta (which I’d recommend), but you can listen to it, and so I’ve bent the rules a bit, mostly because I haven’t stopped thinking about this story since I first read it in 2011, and I think you should get/have to think about it all the time too. Technically, it was first published was in Granta’s Horror issue, but this is as much a love story as it is a horror story, and in fact, it posits that the two can be, perhaps must be, one and the same. “The Infamous Bengal Ming” is narrated by a tiger who falls in love with his keeper, and quickly thereafter finds his world altered, nearly beyond his comprehension. I won’t say any more, so that the horror and the love can unfold as they are meant to—but prepare to be riveted.

The story begins:

The one clear thing I can say about Wednesday, the worst and most amazing day of my life, is this: it started out beautifully. I woke up with the summer dawn, when the sky goes indigo-gray, and the air’s empty coolness begins to fill with a tacky, enveloping warmth. I could hear Saskia and Maharaj purring to each other at the far end of my compound. I’d had to listen to their cooing and screeching sex noises all night, but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t know why yet, but I realized: I was over it. Saskia could sleep with every tiger in the world but me, and I wouldn’t mind.

Listen to it here.

*If you hit a paywall, we recommend trying with a different/private/incognito browser (but listen, you didn’t hear it from us).



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