A. Banerjee

Shree Ghatage (born 1957) moved to Canada in the nineteen-eighties; her first book, Awake When All the World is Asleep (1997) is a collection of short stories. Brahma’s Dream (first published in Canada in 2004) is an unusual coming-of-age story, because the heroine grows up in the shadow of a life-threatening disease. The novel raises philosophical questions about man’s fate, but at the same time gives a realistic picture of members of a Chitpavan Brahmin family living in Shivaji Park in suburban Bombay in the nineteen-forties.


Reviewed by:
Mulk Raj Anand

In a sultry evening in Delhi, here I am, reread-ing Mulk Raj Anand—from time to time kicking in the air to ward off aedes aegypti. For most of us Indians, the history of reading is in two parts. If you are not educated in a public school, you have to wait until you have learnt enough English to begin reading books in English, while you read—or you are read to—in your mother tongue at a very early age.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

For a reader uninitiated in the tradition of the short story in the Punjabi language Slice of Life offers a rich harvest of examples of writings from within this tradition. The stories selected, translated into English by Rana Nayar, are arranged in chronological order and range across the entire span of the twentieth century.


Reviewed by:
Bh. Krishnamurti and C. Vijayashree

It appears that the editors of this anthology of English translation—Bh. Krsihnamurti, a linguistics man and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, and C. Vijayashree, Professor of English at Osmania University—did not have much of a choice. They have translated a Telugu anthology put together by Vakati Panduranga Rao and Vedagiri Rambabu after a three-day workshop in 1997.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

One of the main missions of Vaidehi, among the most compelling Kannada women writers of our times is the retrieval of the woman’s voice from the past. That suppressed past which gains a voice in the present, even while it continues to exist in more nuanced textures.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

The modernist movement (navya) in Kannada literature was significant in many ways. The navya writers created an idiom which even to this day resonates with the many new twists that came into the “being” of a literary work. The idiom of the navya writers was multi-dimensional and accommodated varied experiences and diverse ideas.


Reviewed by:
Premanand Gajvee

Emergence of the dalit theatre is consid- ered as one of the prime aspects of the post-independence Marathi theatre. Marathi theatre which was centered around the middle-class sensibility till then, witnessed for the first time, the low-born, the underdogs of the society, giving vent to the unprecedented humiliation and persecution that they were subjected to, down the centuries.


Reviewed by:
Gangadhar Gadgil. Translated from the Hindi by Arvind Dixit

Prarambh is a successful blend of history and fiction: a hi-story of the beginnings of Mumbai. The environment of the early 1800s is authentically depicted, the characters that are both real and fictional match quite well, and the story runs both as fact and fiction blended. The National Book Trust of India must be thanked and congratulated for bringing it out in English for the benefit of not only the non-Marathi Indian readers but also the international readers who will be able to get important insights into and information about the social-cultural-business renaissance that gave its initial shape to the internationally significant city, Mumbai.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

Ever since the translation of indigenous literature, mainly into English, was initiated almost a decade ago, it has triggered off reams of publications, and gradually evolved into a specific genre. Obviously, this process has been a tremendous success as publishing houses of renown have made forays into this sphere, though often glossing over prominent credits to the key player, i.e. the translator.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

A collage, a photo frame, a diary! No, none of these define the flavour of the book. The memoirs are spun and crafted in a beautiful Tea-Cozy, much to Shaukat Kaifi’s liking, keeping the incidents alive and warm. The title is suggestive of a collection of dates and events, people and places to construct and deconstruct a whole life. The following narrative offers a mirror image of her time, for the generations ahead. Acquiring a more autobiographical element, Shaukat begins from the beginning and tells her own story sequentially.


Reviewed by:
Anamika

In an era dominated by prose and the prosaic, poetry is a saving grace. This is especially so, when—trudging through the turbulence of times—it is able to ‘sponge-in’ the world into words, soak them with the possibilities and probabilities of humane existence without being superficial, hysterical or partisan about it.


Reviewed by:
Anamika

In an era dominated by prose and the prosaic, poetry is a saving grace. This is especially so, when—trudging through the turbulence of times—it is able to ‘sponge-in’ the world into words, soak them with the possibilities and probabilities of humane existence without being superficial, hysterical or partisan about it. This cognitive-aesthetic soaking in of life into words through poetry is, however, a hugely demanding and humbling task.


Reviewed by:
Geetanjali Shree

As the Hindi short story spills beyond its patriarchal enclosures, rebellious fervour gives way to a self-reflexive and intellectually calibrated mode of storytelling. There are no easy passionate outbursts or relentless bouts of ideological sloganeering. The young breed of woman Hindi writers, particularly of the 90s, sustain the credo of protest set into motion by an earlier generation of writers, through a critical resurrection of the issues that were once thought to have been sufficiently clinched in favour of the woman. Old denouements inspire new dialogic take-offs.


Reviewed by:
Krishna Sobti

Krishna Sobti’s Shabdon Ke Aalok Mein is a book of miscellany that evolves as a continuous narrative of her ever-evolving personality—both as a writer and as an individual. Woven around memory and nostalgia, travel fragments and everyday associations, dialogic-monologues and interviews, creative-critical reflections/impressions and academic interactions, this narrative tends to foreground Sobti the woman, her milieu and some of the literary moments she has lived through in the near past.


Reviewed by:
Aruna Chakravarti

Readers of short fiction will be happy to welcome this new anthology. I enjoyed reading the stories as they are well selected and translated. Writers range from the end of the nineteenth (Rajsekhar Basu, 1880) to the middle of the nineteenth century (Suchitra Bhattacharya, 1950) and include some of the best-known artists of the Bangla language.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

In the sixties Sunil Gangopadhyay, already a well-known poet, wrote his first two novels: Jubak Jubati and Atma Prakash, spearheading a movement that brought the Bengali novel out of the shadows of romance and cautious social comment to the glare of harsh introspection and relentless probing into the tensions of a post-Independence urban reality.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

Vilas Sarang reminds me of O.V. Vijayan of Malayalam, although, unlike Vijayan, he is a poet, apart from being a fiction writer and critic who writes in Marathi and in English. Vijayan’s stories of the modernist period were mostly allegories, parables, stories with a sort of cast-iron frame into which human situations or predicaments were set, as if following some kind of predestined design. The modernists are well-known for their philosophical predilections, notably confined to certain schools of the West.


Reviewed by:
Abraham Eraly

Abraham Eraly has selected and transcribed a collection of legends from Kottarathil Sankunni’s Aithihyamala which is an eight volume work published between 1909 and 1934. The translation of the chosen stories is easy and lucid, with no embellishment. Eraly has the confidence of someone who understands the culture and the varieties of communities which integrate in the fabric or canvas of daily interaction.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

M.Mukundan is the story-teller par excellence in contemporary writing in Malayalam. His texts seldom resist reading like those of Anand or O.V. Vijayan often do. He takes the reader into confidence and easily carries him/her along the narrative. Still he does not repeat himself like many popular authors do: he keeps experimenting both with themes and structures, likes to play with space and time and mix reality and fantasy in different measures.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

Sivasankari is a well-known Tamil writer who is exceptionally sensitive to the issues that confront contemporary society. Her concerns get reflected in The Betrayal and Other Stories, a collection of dexterously woven tales with universal themes, ordinary characters and everyday incidents. This anthology contains a kuru novel (a short novel/a long story) and fifteen short stories.


Reviewed by:
Bama

This collection of ten stories is a testimony to Bama’s skills and intent as a writer. Anecdotal in nature, the stories take you almost effortlessly into the lived lives of dalit parayars in Tamilnadu. This is a world that is in the process of change, where the dalits are learning to challenge the hegemonic hold of the landowning castes on them.


Reviewed by:
A. Banerjee

For quite some time now, creative writing in Tamil has been on the high with a vigour and a vibrancy not seen before. The language of Tamil fiction was never more charming; the prose nevermore lilting and rich in vocabulary, or more down-to-earth, assertive and hauntingly aggressive. It is the language of the people, reflected in all its earthy simplicity and glory that brings tears to your eyes.


Reviewed by:
Ambai

When I was told to review Ambai’s short stories I refused. Reviewing is tough for me for I am no verbally confident academic with one or more well-earned degrees and the terminology of criticism properly internalized. So all that I can do is to say whether I liked a book or not; and if I did so, to talk about it with a passion to any willing listener.


Reviewed by:
Jey Manokaran

The nineties of the last century saw a second wind of creativity in Tamil writing, particularly fiction. Largely unnoticed by the readers of the pulp magazines that sold in thousands, a new crop of writers were exploring new themes and new areas of experience in little magazines and original work published as books.


Reviewed by:
Ashokamitran

“It took me more than ten years to give shape to this work of fiction ….. The nearest form to this narration (which is somewhat new to Tamil letters) is the novel. It has a hero, a scene of action (United States), a period (1973-74)” says Ashokamitran (AM from now on) in his brief introduction to the Tamil original of this work. Ostensibly a travelogue of his some seven months stay at the University of Iowa as a writer in residence that the US government had sponsored as part of its strategy to win Third World intellectual support for itself in the Cold War days, it defies classification as a genre.


Reviewed by:
Joe D'Cruz

Aazhi Soozh Ulagu, the title of the novel under review, is an exquisite phrase from Kamban’s Ramyanam (circa 12th century CE), which occurs in Kaikeyi’s exhortation to Lord Ram before he is sent away into exile for fourteen years. ‘All of this ocean-ringed earth is Bharathan’s to rule,’ declares Kaikeyi, while Ram must travel into the jungle to undertake ‘intolerably arduous’ penance, live austerely and bathe in the waters off hallowed pilgrimage centres, before returning home in two times seven years.


Reviewed by:
Pa. Raghavan

In the recent past there is an appreciable rise in the number of books published in Tamil on national and global issues. That such books have a good market augurs well for the future of Tamil. And who are the readers for these books? The last few decades of the last century found a new class of readership, that was recently empowered by education but still, that lacked an adequate knowledge of English, the language of intellectual dialogue internationally. And yet, these new readers were thirsting for knowledge and wanted to know all that was happening around them near and far. Their expectations were not belied and books dealing with a variety of issues started appearing.


Reviewed by:
A.R. Venkatachalapathy

Reading this book was as pleasurable as having a cup of that delicious brewed coffee that became a cultural signifier of the Tamil way of life in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. To those who associate scholarship with dullness, I would strongly recommend Chalapathy’s book since it is consistently both scholarly and lively.


Reviewed by: