Father May Be an Elephant, and Mother Only a Small Basket, but...
A young girl is sent away to school to save her from being declared the sexual property of the village’s upper-caste men. The village water tank laments to a passing child. A Brahmin boy is considered ‘polluted’ by the touch of a Dalit girl – the same action that saved his life.
Rendered with idiomatic vitality, humour and lightness, these stories revel in rural childhood without nostalgia or romanticism, forcing the reader to question their expectation of violence in the representation of certain lives, and of what the short story can be and do.
Shifts in tone and perspective reveal relationships – between the different castes that make up a village, between an individual and the wider community, between identities and the seasonal rhythms of the land. Imbued throughout with a Dalit feminist philosophy that is above all a philosophy of life, to be lived with wit, ingenuity, and defiance.
“Shyamala does not moralise or overly politicise grief and suffering…the descriptions possess an astonishing clarity of visual and sensual delight”
‘Luminous, moving and funny … almost deceptive in its lightness of touch, and deftness of language’—Tehelka
‘That Shyamala avoids a bleakness of tone while leaving alive the possibilities of violence is a tribute to her mastery over the short story form’—Mint Lounge
‘Gogu Shyamala uses her expressive prose to convert caste and gender oppression into stories about human dignity’—Outlook
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