By Troy Patterson
Updated April 26, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Indian-born Nair (not to be confused with the movie director Mira Nair) has a talent for converting the dramas of globalization to intimate portraits of souls in flux. In the title story — set, like most of the tales in her debut collection, on the subcontinent — a wife withdraws from a husband who has fallen under the bedroom influence of Western porn; the couple’s reconciliation plays out as a quasi-mythic neighborhood soap opera. When, in ”A Warm Welcome to the President, Insh’Allah!,” a poor village squirmingly prepares to receive Bill Clinton, the author lets the comedy play out with airy lightness. But much of the rest of Video is merely light — a flat account of an 11-year-old’s episode of stage fright; a straining fantasia about a sculptor and his otherworldly statue — and Nair has yet to develop an ear for fresh language worthy of her eye for cultural detail. B-