Banaphool—which means wildflower—was the pen name of beloved Bengali writer Balaichand Mukhopadhyay (1899–1979). Wildfire brings together 45 short pieces by Banaphool that are brilliantly representative of his uncompromising, multifaceted talent. Stark and short, often much too short, some even cryptic, these stories often leave much of the narrative to our imagination. Here we find an irresistible grab bag: utterly whimsical tales, several ghost stories, a few morality fables, some bitterly critical political satires and a number of stories that examine the plight of those neglected in or rejected by society. The collection includes the novella ‘Bhuvan Shome’, which was made into an acclaimed motion picture by Mrinal Sen, thereby launching the Indian New Wave in 1969.
The wildflower, Rabindranath Tagore had told the author, has no place in the porcelain vase, nor in the temple—it blossoms by the roadside, unnoticed, except by the creative vision. Identifying with it, Banaphool brings to our notice the worth of the marginal as well as the beauty of the mundane. The perfect introduction to a master writer, Wildfire will enchant and impress English-language readers new to Banaphool’s work.
‘Banaphool does not shy away from timeless philosophical questions, contemporary politics, or long-standing issues of caste and social class, but he does not proselytize. He expects his reader to fill in the blanks. To read between the lines. He creates characters who are either brave or blemished (or both) with compassion and without judgement. . . . [H]is work reaches across traditions, but never feels dated.’—J. M. Schreiber. Read the full review on rough ghosts.
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