The Mahasweta Devi Collection #2
Only for readers in India.
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Mahasweta Devi (1926–2016) was one of India’s foremost literary figures from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries—a writer and social activist in equal right. Author of numerous novels, essays and short stories, she received the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honour, in 1996. She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1997 for her ‘compassionate crusade through art and activism to claim for tribal peoples a just and honourable place in India's national life’.
This bundle contains four works by Mahasweta Devi:
1. Chotti Munda and His Arrow
Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
‘I had but that one arrow,’ says Chotti Munda, the hero of this epic tale. A 'magic’ arrow that stood for the pride, the wisdom, the culture of his society, a society threatened with inevitable disintegration as its traditional structure crumbled under the assault of ‘national development’. The wide sweep of this novel ranges over decades in the life of Chotti, the central character, in which India moves from colonial rule to independence and then to the unrest of the 1970s. It traces the changes—some forced, some welcome—in the daily lives of a marginalized rural community. And at its core, it celebrates Chotti, legendary archer, wise and farsighted leader, proud role model to his younger brother.
2. Bitter Soil
Translated by Ipsita Chanda
Bitter Soil collects four of Mahasweta Devi’s most powerful stories—‘Salt’, ‘Seed’, ‘The Witch’ and ‘Little Ones’—all set in the Palamau District of Jharkhand, a region inhabited by adivasis where author had travelled extensively. As she says in her introduction, ‘My Palamau is a mirror of India.’ These harsh, hard-hitting pieces are, in her own words, amongst the most important of her prolific writing career. Written in the 1980s, they resonate with anger against the exploitation she witnessed firsthand as well as the complacent hypocrisy of the upper castes and classes. The stories remain as relevant today as they were decades ago.
3. Bait: And Other Stories
Translated by Sumanta Banerjee
Unlike most of her works, which focus on indigenous people and the rural dispossessed, the four stories in this collection are located in the urban and suburban underworld, and form an unusual segment of Mahasweta Devi’s oeuvre. ‘Fisherman’ tells the story of Jagat who recovers bodies of young boys from the village tank so that the police can pass them off as cases of drowning. ‘Knife’ is a tongue-in-cheek account of gang warfare in a suburban town of West Bengal bordering Bangladesh. In ‘Body’ we see a young woman, exploited by a politician and his cohorts, stand up against the establishment. And in ‘Killer’, Sona alias Akhil, an unemployed middle-class youth, discovers himself after his first ‘test’ killing.
4. Dust on the Road: Activist and Political Writings of Mahasweta Devi
Edited, Translated and Introduced by Maitreya Ghatak
Dust on the Road collects Mahasweta’s activist prose written between 1981 and 1992, including most of her articles in English from journals and newspapers such as Economic and Political Weekly, Business Standard, Sunday and Frontier; several Bengali pieces in translation; and her editorials from Bortika. The selection has been careful to include all her important writings on the issues which preoccupied her over the years and found their way into her celebrated fiction: short-sighted rural development projects, the degradation of indigenous life and the environment, land alienation, and the exploitation and struggles of the landless and small peasants, sharecroppers, bonded labourers, contract labourers and miners. Just as in her fiction, Mahasweta in these essays bears stern testimony to the harsh reality of marginalized lives.
If you are ordering from India, your order will be shipped from Seagull Books, Calcutta.
If you are ordering from the US or the UK or anywhere else in the world, your order will be shipped from the University of Chicago Press' distribution centre, Chicago.
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